Ebola patient on U.S. soil
OMAHA — A surgeon who contracted Ebola while working in Sierra Leone arrived in Nebraska Saturday for treatment at a biocontainment unit where two other people with the disease have been successfully treated.
Martin Salia, who was diagnosed with Ebola on Monday, landed at Eppley Airfield in Omaha on Saturday afternoon and was taken by ambulance to the Nebraska Medical Center.
The hospital said the medical crew that accompanied Salia, 44, from West Africa determined he was stable enough to fly, but that the team caring for him in Sierra Leone indicated he was critically ill and “possibly sicker than the first patients successfully treated in the United States.”
The disease has killed more than 5,000 people in West Africa, mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leona. Of the 10 people treated for the disease in America, all but one has recovered.
Salia’s ambulance to the hospital was accompanied by a single Nebraska State Patrol cruiser and a fire department vehicle — a subdued arrival in contrast to the August delivery of Dr. Rick Sacra, whose ambulance was flanked by numerous police cars, motorcycles and fire vehicles.
Salia, a Sierra Leone citizen who lives in Maryland, was working as a general surgeon at Kissy United Methodist Hospital in the Sierra Leone capital of Freetown. It’s not clear whether he was involved in the care of Ebola patients. Kissy is not an Ebola treatment unit, but Salia worked in at least three other facilities, United Methodist News said.
The State Department said it helped facilitate the transfer of Salia.
Nebraska Medical Center spokesman Taylor Wilson said members of Salia’s family were not at the hospital but were expected to arrive “in the near future.”