WORLD-Ebola-stricken doctor dies
OMAHA –– A surgeon who contracted Ebola in his native Sierra Leone received aggressive treatment at a Nebraska hospital over the weekend, but died this morning.
Dr Martin Salia’s death is a reminder of how deadly the Ebola virus is and how important it is to receive treatment early, said Dr Jeff Gold, chancellor of the University of Nebraska Medical Centre in Omaha.
“In the very advanced stages, even the modern techniques we have at our disposal are not enough to help these patients once they reach a critical threshold,” Gold said at a news conference.
Salia, 44, was diagnosed with the virus November 6. By the time he arrived at the Omaha hospital on Saturday, he was in extremely critical condition with no kidney function and severe respiratory problems.
He was placed on kidney dialysis and a ventilator, and was given several medications to support his organ systems, the hospital said in a statement. He was given the experimental Ebola drug ZMapp on Saturday and received a plasma transfusion from an Ebola survivor –– a treatment that is believed to provide antibodies to fight the virus.
“We used every possible treatment available to give Dr Salia every possible opportunity for survival,” said Dr Phil Smith, medical director of the biocontainment unit. “As we have learned, early treatment with these patients is essential. In Dr Salia’s case, his disease was already extremely advanced by the time he came here for treatment.”
The doctors and nurses treating Salia took additional precautions to protect themselves from the virus because of the advanced state of his disease when he arrived, Smith said. Everyone who treated Salia will be monitored for 21 days for Ebola symptoms, but they won’t be quarantined.
Salia’s body will be cremated as a precaution, Smith said.
Two other Ebola patients have been successfully treated at the Omaha hospital. Of ten people to be treated for the disease in the United States, all but two have recovered. Thomas Eric Duncan, of Liberia, died at a Dallas hospital in October.
Salia was on day 13 of his illness when he arrived in Omaha, Smith said. The hospital’s two surviving Ebola patients arrived on day six and day eight of their illnesses.
Salia’s wife Isatu Salia said today that she and her family were grateful for the efforts made by her husband’s medical team.
“We are so appreciative of the opportunity for my husband to be treated here and believe he was in the best place possible,” Salia said.
Ebola has killed more than 5,000 people in West Africa, mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Five other doctors in Sierra Leone have contracted Ebola, and all have died.