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Doctor with Ebola dies in American hospital

17 November 2014, 19:00

Washington - A surgeon who was infected with Ebola while working in his native Sierra Leone has died, becoming the second patient in the United States to succumb to the hemorrhagic virus, officials said Monday.

Martin Salia, 44, a US resident, was infected with Ebola while treating patients in his home country. The virus has killed thousands in West Africa since the start of the year.

Salia was flown to Nebraska for treatment on Saturday, but doctors said his organs were failing by the time he arrived and they were unable to save him.

"Dr. Salia was suffering from advanced symptoms of Ebola when he arrived at the hospital Saturday, which included kidney and respiratory failure," the Nebraska Medical Center in a statement.

"He was placed on dialysis, a ventilator and multiple medications to support his organ systems in an effort to help his body fight the disease."

Salia was also given donated plasma from a survivor of Ebola and the experimental drug treatment ZMapp.

The hospital said late Sunday that doctors were doing everything they could to save him.

"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, in a statement early Monday.

"Dr. Salia was extremely critical when he arrived here, and unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we weren't able to save him."

Salia was the 10th person with Ebola to be treated in the United States, and the second to have died from the infection which causes vomiting, diarrhea and often fatal bleeding.

Read alsoBored with Ebola: Liberian schoolchildren with nothing to do


In October, a Liberian man, Thomas Eric Duncan, died at a Texas hospital of the virus which has killed thousands of people in West Africa in history's largest outbreak to date.

Nebraska Medical Center had previously treated a US missionary doctor, Rick Sacra, and a freelance photojournalist, Ashoka Mukpo, who were both infected in Liberia and survived their infections.

When Salia first began to show symptoms of Ebola in Sierra Leone, a test for the virus came back negative, according to the Washington Post.

A second test, on November 10, was positive.

Salia and his wife lived in New Carrollton, Maryland, a suburb of the US capital Washington. They have two children, age 12 and 20.

"We're very grateful for the efforts of the team led by Dr. Smith," said his wife, Isatu, in a statement.

"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."

The World Health Organization said Friday that 5,177 people are known to have died of Ebola across eight countries, out of a total 14,413 cases of infection, since December 2013.

Salia is seen in a video distributed by United Methodist Kissy Hospital outside Freetown, where he worked, describing why he wanted to treat patients in Sierra Leone.

"I took this job not because I want to, but I firmly believe it was a calling," he said.

"I strongly believe that God has called me here." 

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