Dr. Daniel Johnson of University of Nebraska Medical Center confirmed Monday that Dr. Salia, a surgeon who tested positive for Ebola in Sierra Leone, died after going into cardiac arrest
According to USA Today, Martin Salia, 44, native of the West African nation of Sierra Leone and surgeon, died of the Ebola virus yesterday, November 17th, while being treated at a specialized biomedical unit in Nebraska. He was flown from Sierra Leone on Saturday and rushed to the Nebraska Medical Center’s Biocontainment Unit. The medical crew transporting Dr. Salia had determined he was critically ill and “likely sicker than the first patients successfully treated in the United States.” He died about 36 hours later.
“It is with an extremely heavy heart that we share this news,” Stated Phil Smith, medical director of the Biocontainment Unit at the hospital. “Dr. Salia was extremely critical when he arrived here, and unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we weren’t able to save him.”
Obama issued a statement extending “heartfelt condolences” to Salia’s loved ones. “Dr. Salia dedicated his life to saving others,” Obama said. “He viewed this vocation as his calling.”
Salia’s family issued a statement saying that they were “saddened” by his death and asking for privacy for his wife and two sons.
A close friend of Dr. Salia’s, Patricia Mustapha said, “He was back in his country, helping his people,” Mustapha told WUSA-TV in Washington, D.C. “We are just so sad. He died a hero.”
Salia tested negative for the disease on Nov. 7, days after exhibiting symptoms. He tested positive Nov. 10. Dr. Smith explained that “false negative” test results are possible in the first days of symptoms because the viral load is relatively low.
Daniel Johnson, director of critical care at Nebraska Medical Center, said the medical team had to quickly strive to combat kidney and respiratory failure. Salia was placed on dialysis, required a ventilator and received plasma from a surviving Ebola patient.
Several medications were administered, including the experimental ZMapp therapy, a new drug that has shown promise in fighting Ebola.
“We used every possible treatment available to give Dr. Salia every possible opportunity for survival,” Smith said. “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 is the second person to die of Ebola in the United States. A Liberian man who lived in Texas, by the name of Thomas Eric Duncan, contracted the disease in his native country but was not diagnosed until he arrived in Dallas, Texas. He died on October 8, 2014. Eight other people have been treated for the disease in the United States, two of which were treated at Nebraska Medical Center. They survived.
Patients infected with the Ebola virus require a large number of staffers and around-the-clock care. Nebraska Medical Center has one of four U.S. special biomedical facilities, founded after the 2001 terrorist attacks. They are actually designed to protect against bioterrorism. The others are Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, Montana, and the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.
Ebola has killed over 5,000 people in West Africa, mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
“We’re very grateful for the efforts of the team led by Dr. Smith,” Isatu Salia said Monday. “In the short time we spent here, it was apparent how caring and compassionate everyone was. We are so appreciative of the opportunity for my husband to be treated here and believe he was in the best place possible.”
-Nykki Siren (@QueenMelaK)