It has just been reported that a surgeon who was being treated for Ebola at a Nebraska hospital has died.
Dr. Martin Salia, 44, who arrived Saturday from West Africa in dire health, was pronounced dead Monday morning from the virus. He reportedly tested negative for the virus despite having been in the throes of infection.
Dr. Salia, a Maryland resident, was treating Ebola in his home country of Sierra Leone when he became ill. He was transported to the Nebraska Medical Center’s biocontainment unit on Saturday, where two other Ebola patients were successfully treated.
Dr. Salia was said to be near death when he arrived in Omaha.
His first Ebola test came back negative. Dr. Salia’s symptoms worsened, and five days passed before he was given another test.
That one was positive:
The doctors who tended to him in Freetown appeared to be unaware that an early Ebola test — taken within the first three days of the illness — is often inconclusive. In a country where information about the disease continues to move slowly, it was another potentially tragic mistake.
In many cases, a negative test at that stage means nothing because “there aren’t enough copies of the virus in the blood for the test to pick up,” said Ermias Belay, the head of the CDC’s Ebola response team in Sierra Leone.
But M’Briwa and others treated the test as definitive, even though Salia remained feverish and weak. The first results were delivered by a team of Chinese lab technicians who had opened a nearby hospital. (source)
The State Department facilitated Dr. Salia’s transfer to the US at the request of his wife, Isatu, a U.S. citizen, according to a statement issued Saturday by Jen Psaki, the department spokeswoman. His wife has agreed to reimburse the government for any expenses, Psaki said. A State Department spokesman said Sunday that the U.S. government has not yet calculated the cost of the flight.
The Washington Post reported the following:
Salia was treated with the blood of an Ebola survivor as well as the experimental treatment ZMapp, which was initiated on Saturday, the hospital said. When he arrived in Nebraska on Saturday, he was already suffering from kidney and respiratory failure. He died at about 4 a.m. local time, according to the hospital.
“It is with an extremely heavy heart that we share this news,” said Phil Smith, medical director of the Biocontainment Unit at Nebraska Medical Center. “Dr. Salia was extremely critical when he arrived here, and unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we weren’t able to save him.”
Smith added: “We used every possible treatment available to give Dr. Salia every possible opportunity for survival. 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.”
Dr. Salia leaves behind his wife and two children, ages 16 and 20.
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