UNITED STATES, Nov 14 – A surgeon infected with Ebola will be transported from Sierra Leone to The Nebraska Medical Center for treatment, a U.S. government official familiar with the situation said. The doctor, a Sierra Leone national and legal permanent resident of the United States, is expected to arrive this weekend, most likely Saturday, the official said.
The official said it’s not known whether the doctor was working in an Ebola treatment unit or some other type of hospital. The surgeon is married to a U.S. citizen and has children, the official said. Sierra Leone has seen more than 5,300 cases of Ebola and more than 1,100 deaths in this year’s outbreak of the deadly virus, according to figures from the World Health Organization.
The Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha is one of four hospitals in the United States that have biocontainment units and years of preparation in handling highly infectious disease such as Ebola. In a statement Thursday night, a spokesman said the hospital is still awaiting official confirmation about whether it will treat another Ebola patient. First, hospital spokesman Taylor Wilson said, air ambulance crew members will evaluate the patient when they arrive in Sierra Leone.
“The members of the crew will determine whether the patient is stable enough for transport — if he is, he would arrive in Omaha sometime Saturday afternoon,” Wilson said in a written statement. “We will update you on the status of this patient as more information becomes available.” Doctors at The Nebraska Medical Center have already treated two American Ebola patients. Dr. Rick Sacra was treated at the hospital and released in September.
Ashoka Mukpo, a freelance cameraman who worked for NBC, was treated there and released last month. Sacra and Mukpo contracted the virus in Liberia and were later flown to the United States for treatment. So far, the limited number of Ebola cases treated in the United States have shown a higher survival rate than cases treated in West Africa. A number of factors could impact the latest patient’s treatment, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta told “AC360.” “We don’t know how sick he is,” Gupta said. “We don’t know what stage of the disease he is (in).”