Thanks to Lucie Lecomte for sending the link to this AFP report in The Daily Tribune: Health workers make ultimate sacrifice to battle Ebola. Excerpt:
KAILAHUN — Placed in a disinfected coffin and driven alongside two bagged bodies on a flatbed truck, Modupeh Cole is buried without ceremony, tribute or tears, far away from his loved-ones. The eminent doctor, a specialist of some renown at the Connaught Hospital in Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown, had been exposed to the deadly Ebola virus less than two weeks earlier.
Examining a patient who, colleagues say, was probably the first Ebola case in the hospital’s 102-year history, he had no idea of the danger he was in.
Cole, who was in his mid-fifties, began to complain of a fever and severe headaches shortly after seeing his patient.
He was transferred to the specialist Ebola treatment centre run by global aid charity Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) in the eastern town of Kailahun.
Despite benefiting from among the best care and expertise on Ebola available anywhere in the world, he was dead within a few days.
“(Connaught) is a place where they see general patients, patients with all sorts of conditions,” says Samuel Patrick Massaquoi, a one-time protege of Cole and now the medical superintendent at the Kailahun Government Hospital.
“And when we had the outbreak, especially adult patients, they will hide their signs and symptoms — they will not tell you how they feel.
“They will present to you in any one of these hospitals in the country saying ‘I have malaria, I have typhoid.’ That was how it happened.”
The last days of an Ebola victim can be grim, with the most severe cases succumbing to agonizing muscular pain, vomiting, diarrhea and catastrophic hemorraging described as “bleeding out” as their organs break down.
Despite the best efforts of health professionals at MSF and elsewhere, there is little dignity for victims of Ebola, even in death. Belongings must be burned and often burials are witnessed only by grave diggers.
“Families often stay away from burials with Ebola, but they can come later because we keep a list of who is buried and where,” says the manager of the health ministry crew in charge of interring Cole.
“We contacted the doctor’s family but they said to go ahead straight away.”