Sadly, Doctor loses Ebola Battle, Dies in Omaha
Medic-ALL (17:11:2014) Courtesy New York Times
WASHINGTON — This time, the challenge of Ebola was much steeper for the doctors and nurses at Nebraska Medical Center, one of a handful of hospitals specially designated to handle cases of the deadly virus in the United States.
Unlike the two Ebola patients they had successfully treated earlier this year at the hospital’s biocontainment unit in Omaha, the man who arrived from Sierra Leoneon Saturday, Dr. Martin Salia, was in extremely critical condition. Dr. Salia, a legal permanent resident of the United States who had been working as a surgeon in Sierra Leone, died early Monday morning, barely into his second day of treatment, but almost two weeks into his illness.
The Late Dr Martin Saila
“Even the most modern techniques that we have at our disposal are not enough to help these patients once they reach a critical threshold,” said Dr. Jeffrey P. Gold, chancellor of the University of the Nebraska Medical Center, the hospital’s academic partner.
Dr. Philip Smith, the medical director of the biocontainment unit, said that Dr. Salia, 44, had initially been tested for Ebola in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, on Nov. 7, but that the test came back negative. He was retested there on Nov. 10, at which point the results were positive. Dr. Smith said such false negatives were not uncommon early in the illness.
Dr. Daniel W. Johnson, a critical care specialist at Nebraska Medical Center, said that Dr. Salia’s kidneys had stopped functioning and that he was laboring to breathe when he arrived at the hospital late Saturday afternoon after a 15-hour flight. Doctors quickly tried two treatments they had used on their other Ebola patients: an experimental antiviral drug and a plasma transfusion from theblood of an Ebola survivor, which researchers believe may provideantibodies against the virus.
But Dr. Salia was already so ill that within hours of his arrival at the hospital, he needed continuous dialysis to replace his kidney function. By the pre-dawn hours of Sunday, he was in respiratory failure and needed a ventilator, Dr. Johnson said on Monday. Around the same time, he added, Dr. Salia’s blood pressure plummeted.
“He progressed to the point of cardiac arrest, and we weren’t able to get him through this,” Dr. Johnson said at a news conference in Omaha. “We really, really gave it everything we could.”
Dr. Smith said he did not know how Dr. Salia had contracted the virus. “He worked in an area where there was a lot of Ebola disease, much of it probably unrecognized,” Dr. Smith said, “and there were many opportunities for him to have contracted it.”
In the frenetic neighborhood of Kissy, on the eastern end of Freetown, an eerie quiet hung over the United Methodist Hospital on Monday as news spread that Dr. Salia had died. He was the chief medical officer and the only surgeon at United Methodist Kissy Hospital, according to United Methodist News Service.
Leonard Gbloh, the administrator of the hospital, said he did not think Dr. Salia could have contracted Ebola there.
“We have not been taking Ebola patients here” he said. “And we had stringent control measures in place to prevent it entering.”
The hospital even stopped all surgical work several months ago as a precaution, Mr. Gbloh said. Now, the hospital is being decontaminated and several staff members who came into contact with Dr. Salia after he fell ill are in quarantine there.