NEBRASKA, Nov 16 – A surgeon diagnosed with Ebola in his native Sierra Leone arrived Saturday afternoon in the United States, where he will undergo treatment at Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. Doctors judge him to be in “extremely critical condition,” the center said in a statement dated Saturday. While the statement did not identify the patient, the family of Dr. Martin Salia has previously said he is the patient.
Salia, who is a legal permanent resident of the United States, is married to a U.S. citizen, his relatives told CNN Baltimore affiliate WJZ. “This is an hour-by-hour situation,” Dr. Phil Smith, medical director of the Biocontainment Unit at Nebraska Medical Center, said in the statement. “He is extremely ill. We have multiple highly-trained specialists who are experts in their fields targeting his most serious medical issues.”
The U.S. Embassy in Freetown confirmed a flight carrying a doctor recently diagnosed with Ebola departed Saturday (11 p.m. ET on Friday) en route to The Nebraska Medical Center. Taylor confirmed a flight landed carrying an Ebola-stricken patient arrived at 3:51 p.m. local time Saturday.The Sierra Leone team that was caring for the patient characterized him as critically ill, possibly sicker than the first patients successfully treated in the United States, according to an earlier statement from Nebraska Medical Center.
“My sister is very worried and upset,” Salia’s brother-in-law, Ibrahim Kargbo, told CNN, referring to Salia’s wife, Isatu. “Right now, she is pretty devastated. … We’re all just praying he recovers soon.” The doctor was splitting his time between New Carrollton, Maryland, and Sierra Leone, where he works at a Methodist hospital, WJZ reported.
“He doesn’t think of himself as someone important,” his son, Maada Salia, told WJZ. “He puts himself down and helps those who really need help.” Salia treated all sorts of patients at the hospital in Sierra Leone — one of three countries most affected by the deadly virus. “The fact that he left here and went back to his country, that made me worry a little bit, especially when he’s a doctor … because he doesn’t know who has the virus,” his son said.
The evacuation came at the request of his wife, a Maryland resident, who has agreed to reimburse the government for any expense, the U.S. State Department said in a statement. The cost is not known. An air ambulance crew evaluated him in Freetown this week and determined he was well enough to travel to Omaha.