World & Nation

Surgeon who got Ebola in Africa arrives at Nebraska hospital

Nebraska Medical Center
A surgeon working in Sierra Leone who has been stricken with the Ebola virus arrived at Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha for treatment Saturday.
(Associated Press)

A surgeon who contracted Ebola while working to combat the outbreak of the virus in Sierra Leone arrived Saturday in Nebraska for treatment at a special medical facility, according to hospital officials.

Taylor Wilson, spokesman for Nebraska Medical Center, declined to identify the patient but said he arrived and was admitted to Nebraska Medical Center after 5 p.m. Central time.

Steve Dennie, communications director for the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, told the Los Angeles Times that the patient is Dr. Martin Salia, 44.

Salia is a citizen of Sierra Leone, Dennie told The Times, and has family members residing in the U.S.


Salia arrived at Eppley Airfield in Omaha and was transferred to the biocontainment unit at Nebraska Medical Center, where two other Ebola patients recovered after they were stricken with the virus, according to Wilson.

The surgeon is the 10th Ebola patient treated in the U.S.

Salia is chief medical officer at United Methodist Kissy Hospital, a 60-bed facility that serves an impoverished section of Freetown, the Sierra Leone capital, according to the United Methodist Church’s official news service. 

The doctor is married and his wife, a U.S. citizen, lives in Maryland, according to the church news service.


Dennie told The Times that Salia is not employed by United Brethren, but that the doctor has been involved with the evangelical group for years.

Salia had also volunteered and been involved in strategic planning meetings at Mattru Hospital, a United Brethren facility in Sierra Leone, earlier this year, Dennie said.

Ashoka Mukpo, a cameraman working with NBC who contracted the virus in Liberia this year, was one of the two patients already treated in Omaha. Mukpo, a U.S. citizen, described his experiences in an essay in the Wall Street Journal this week.

“I tried to sleep as much as I could, although involuntary shudders throughout my body occasionally woke me up,” he wrote. “Nurses pushed me to stand up and walk around as much as possible. Walking small distances was difficult, my throat was so sore I couldn’t swallow, and every muscle in my body ached as if it had been hit with a bat.”

Offering high praise to the doctors at Nebraska Medical Center, Mukpo said  he was blessed to receive the high-end care that eludes most of the West Africans dying from the virus.

“During this reprieve, we must recognize that the absence of modern healthcare in large parts of the world poses a threat to everyone. By strengthening medical services in countries like Liberia, we will be protecting our own societies as well,” he wrote. “Perhaps then, if the world has to confront the horrors of Ebola again, more people will have my good fortune, and we will all be safer for it.”

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