Excerpted from "Ebola-infected physician dies in Nebraska," USA Today, November 17, 2014, - A surgeon infected with Ebola while treating patients in Sierra Leone has died in Omaha, Nebraska Medical Center announced Monday. Martin Salia, whose family lives in Maryland, arrived in Omaha on Saturday for treatment at the specialized biocontainment unit. He became ill Nov. 6 and tested positive for Ebola a week ago. Before his dad died, the son of Doctor Martin Salia said treating patients infected with Ebola was his "calling from God."
"It is with an extremely heavy heart that we share this news," Phil Smith, medical director of the Biocontainment Unit at the hospital, said in the statement. "Dr. Salia was extremely critical when he arrived here, and unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we weren't able to save him."
Smith said Salia was suffering from advanced symptoms of Ebola when he arrived, including kidney and respiratory failure. He was placed on dialysis, required a ventilator and received plasma, Smith said. Multiple medications included ZMapp therapy, a new drug that has shown promise in fighting the disease.
Salia is the second person to die of Ebola in the United States. A Liberian man living in Texas, Thomas Eric Duncan, contracted the disease in his native country but was not diagnosed until after his return to Dallas. He died Oct. 8.
Salia's wife, Isatu Salia, has said that her husband believed he had malaria or typhoid when he fell ill Nov. 6. Her husband had two negative tests for Ebola before the third came back positive Nov. 10, she said. Isatu Salia said her husband's voice sounded weak and shaky when they spoke early Friday. But she said he told her, "I love you."
Salia said her husband traveled frequently between the United States and his native Sierra Leone. He never stayed in the U.S. long because he believed people in Africa need him, she said. Ebola has killed more than 5,000 people in West Africa, mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leona and Guinea.
Professor of Clinical Medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center and CMDA Campus Advisor Allen H. Roberts II, MD, MDiv: “With heavy hearts the news of Dr. Martin Salia’s death was shared, and with heavy hearts it is received. Most keenly is his death felt by his wife and sons, to whom our hearts and for whom our prayers go out, but it is felt deeply and dearly by his CMDA family as well. We pause in the midst of our daily rounds and of our own Ebola preparations to think about our brother in Christ, the life he lived and the death he died – both in the service of the Lord he loved.
“Martin’s predicament confirms what we are learning about Ebola. Patients who arrive at U.S. medical centers early in the course of the illness and are treated with aggressive fluid and electrolyte administration fare better. Many hospitals are developing protocols and ethics statements reflecting that with appropriate disease-containment interventions, the disease, when treated early, is survivable and containable.
“Dr. Salia’s death also came in the aftermath of an appeal that went out to CMDA members that we pray without ceasing for his recovery, and scores of members did just that. Yet, this dear brother died.
“Now is a good time to remember Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:17-44). We may join Martha and Mary in their deep sorrow; we may join Jesus Himself in absolute indignation and anger over the death of a friend.
“And we are invited, then, to listen to Jesus utter these most astonishing words, “I am the resurrection and the life…” (John 11:25, NIV 2011). It was in the certain hope of the resurrection that Martin Salia responded to God’s call to minister to those with Ebola in Sierra Leone. He counted the cost, and he went.
“We know how the story ends for Lazarus and how it will end for Martin Salia and all who are in Christ. It may be in the months ahead that God in His mercy will lead us to an effective treatment for this dreaded disease. We don’t know. But it was on the cross that the fate of Ebola was sealed, along with that of all disease and all death in all history. Jesus’ tomb is empty, and so will be Martin’s.”
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