Friday, September 5, 2014

This Is What It Feels Like to Survive Ebola


Since he started treating patients with Ebola in West Africa, Dr. Kent Brantly had seen only one person survive. Then he tested positive for the disease himself. What it’s like to outlive the worst outbreak of Ebola on record.

Ebola is ravaging West Africa like a wildfire out of control.

Officials Urge Use of Ebola Survivors’ Blood to Treat PatientsWHO Outlines Timeline for Experimental Ebola DrugsTug-of-War Erupts Over Archbishop Sheen's Body NBC NewsFaith, Medicine or ZMapp: What Cured The Ebola Patients? NBC NewsUnresponsive Plane Crashes Off Jamaican Coast After F-15 Chase NBC News

The morning I woke up with Ebola, I felt a little warm. My temperature was 100.0–higher than normal, but not too concerning. I decided to stay home from work that morning just to play it safe. I had spent the last seven weeks fighting the world’s worst Ebola outbreak in Liberia, where I was working as a physician with Samaritan’s Purse. I thought I just had a cold, but I was not naive enough to think I was immune to the possibility of Ebola.

By noon, my temperature had increased to 101.4. I took a rapid malaria test; it was negative–not a good sign. I called our team leader, who sent physician colleagues to my home in full protective gear.

After two more negative malaria tests, I knew I would be in isolation for at least three more days. Often the blood test for Ebola will remain negative for the first three days of illness, so we had to wait a few days for an accurate result. In the meantime, I grew sicker. My fever hit 104.9. I felt nauseated and began having diarrhea. Eventually the team started an IV in my arm and gave me fluids. We all hoped it could be dengue fever.

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