Critically Ill Surgeon with Ebola on flight to U.S. for care

Dr. Martin Salia, a surgeon infected with Ebola while treating patients in Sierra Leone is on a flight to the United States for treatment. The surgeon, who is a permanent resident of the United States and lives in Maryland — will be treated at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Sierra Leone’s chief medical officer, Dr. Brima Kargbo said. He will be the third Ebola patient at the Omaha hospital and the 10th person with Ebola to be treated in the U.S.

The hospital in Omaha is one of four U.S. hospitals with specialized treatment units for people with highly dangerous, infectious diseases. At first, Salia thought he had malaria or typhoid. His wife says he had two negative tests for Ebola before the third came back positive.

Salia, called “one of the best-trained surgeons in his country” by colleagues, had been working as a general surgeon at Kissy United Methodist Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Kissy is not an Ebola treatment unit, but Salia worked in at least three other medical facilities, United Methodist News said.

The hospital was closed Tuesday after Salia tested positive and he was taken to an Ebola treatment center near Freetown, the church news service said. Kissy hospital staffers will be quarantined for 21 days.

His wife, Isatu Salia, said when she spoke to her husband early Friday his voice sounded weak and shaky. But she said he told her “I love you.”

The two have prayed together, and their children, ages 12 and 20, are coping, Isatu Salia told the Associated Press, calling her husband “my everything.” She said her husband travels frequently between the United States and his native Sierra Leone but never stays in the U.S. long because he believes people back in Africa need him.

The U.S. Embassy in Freetown said Salia was paying for the expensive evacuation. The travel costs and care of other Ebola patients flown to the U.S. were covered by the groups they worked for in West Africa.

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