Surgeon with Ebola going to U.S. for care

Dr. Martin Salia (left) performs surgery at the United Methodist Church's Kissy Hospital outside Freetown, Sierra Leone in March. The hospital was closed Nov. 11 after Salia, chief medical officer and surgeon, tested positive for Ebola.

Dr. Martin Salia (left) performs surgery at the United Methodist Church’s Kissy Hospital outside Freetown, Sierra Leone in March. The hospital was closed Nov. 11 after Salia, chief medical officer and surgeon, tested positive for Ebola.

A surgeon working in Sierra Leone has been diagnosed with Ebola and will be flown Saturday to the United States for treatment, officials from Sierra Leone and the United States said.

Dr. Martin Salia is being taken to Omaha to be treated at the Nebraska Medical Center, Sierra Leone’s chief medical officer, Dr. Brima Kargbo, told The Associated Press on Friday. The U.S. Embassy in Freetown said Salia himself was paying for the expensive evacuation.

A Sierra Leone citizen, the 44-year-old Salia lives in Maryland and is a permanent U.S. resident, according to a person in the United States with direct knowledge of the situation. The person was not authorized to release the information and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The doctor will be the third Ebola patient at the Omaha hospital and the 10th person with Ebola to be treated in the U.S. The last, Dr. Craig Spencer, was released from a New York hospital on Tuesday.

The Nebraska Medical Center said Thursday it had no official confirmation that it would be treating another patient, but that an Ebola patient in Sierra Leone would be evaluated for possible transport to the hospital. The patient would arrive Saturday afternoon.

Salia is a general surgeon who had been working at Kissy United Methodist Hospital in the Sierra Leone capital of Freetown, according to the person familiar with the case. He came down with symptoms of Ebola on Nov. 6 but test results were negative for the deadly virus. He was tested again on Monday, and he tested positive. Salia is in stable condition at an Ebola treatment center in Freetown. It wasn’t clear whether he had been involved in the care of Ebola patients.

Sierra Leone is one of the three West Africa nations hit hard by an Ebola epidemic this year. Five other doctors in Sierra Leone have contracted Ebola – and all have died.

The disease has killed more than 5,000 people in West Africa, mostly in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

The State Department said late Thursday, that along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it had been in touch with the Maryland wife of an unidentified Ebola patient about transferring him to the Nebraska Medical Center.

The hospital in Omaha is one of four U.S. hospitals with specialized treatment units for people with highly dangerous infectious diseases. It was chosen for the latest patient because workers at units at Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital and the National Institutes of Health near Washington are still in a 21-day monitoring period.

Those two hospitals treated two Dallas nurses who were infected while caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who fell ill with Ebola shortly after arriving in the U.S. and later died.

The other eight Ebola patients in the U.S. recovered, including the nurses. Five were American aid workers who became infected in West Africa while helping care for patients there; one was a video journalist.

 
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