On Nov. 26, 2014, Matt Lauer interviewed six very thankful people on the Today Show. They shared one key experience, which was that they survived Ebola after working in West Africa. They are also all selfless heroes that nearly died after treating patients in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Kevin Brantley MD was credited with helping save four of the other victims by donating his blood that contains Ebola antibodies. Nancy Writebol is a missionary that was working in a hospital in Liberia helping to clean the personal protective equipment (PPE) of medical personnel treating Ebola patients. Ashoka Mukpo is a freelance journalist that was working on a story for NBC News when he got Ebola.
Two nurses contacted Ebola while treating a patient in the US. Nina Pham RN and Amber Vinson RN both worked with Thomas Eric Duncan at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. Duncan was the first patient to die of Ebola in the US. Rick Sacra MD was working in a maternity ward when he got Ebola. Dr. Sacra’s experience in getting Ebola while working in a maternity ward has led the CDC to issue guidelines on Nov. 16, 2014 regarding testing and treatment of pregnant women diagnosed with Ebola.
When asked what they were now thankful after surviving Ebola, these people all expressed gratitude for their survival and the opportunity to continue being with family and friends. Those that are medical professionals expressed their willingness to treat Ebola patients again.
Dr. Brantley said that everyone needs to remember the Ebola victims in West Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported details of the number of people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone that have contracted Ebola disease and the number of fatalities between March 1, 2014 and Nov. 21, 2014.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided a report based on the WHO data titled 2014 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa – Cumulative Reported Cases Graph. The numbers do not reflect the suffering or sadness of these deaths.
In Guinea 2,047 got Ebola and 1,214 died. This was a 59.3% death rate.
In Liberia 7,082 got Ebola and 2,963 died. This was a 41.3% death rate.
In Sierra Leone, 6,190 got Ebola and 1,267 died. This was a 20.5% death rate.
In total, 15,319 got Ebola and 5,444 died. This was a 35.8% death rate.
As Dr. Brantley points out, we need to remember the more than 5,500 people that died in West Africa in 2014 as we celebrate the seven that survived Ebola in the US. Spencer Craig MD worked for Doctors without Borders, but did not appear on the Today Show. Nancy Writebol contributed her antibodies to help treat Dr. Craig. Others that should be remembered include Martin Salia MD. Dr. Salia was a surgeon, a US citizen and a volunteer in Sierra Leone. He died at the Nebraska Medical Center after arriving from Sierra Leone in critical condition. So far, he is the only US citizen that got Ebola disease that has died after treatment.
Many people in the US appear to be willing to return to the complacency that existed about Ebola being a disease “over there” that is suffered by people that are “not us”. It is dangerous but laudable that the US military is building support facilities in West Africa. It is also dangerous but laudable that US medical professions are working in West Africa. The world should awaken to the fact that everyone is interconnected. There is no “over there” or “not us” when it concerns Ebola and other potentially pandemic diseases. The same applies to famine, pollution, and climate changes. Unless we solve these problems, we all face extinction.
Ebola is God’s wake-up call to the world to exercise the Golden Rule or die. Future generations will look back at what we are doing in the next few years to divert the resources that we are using to kill each other towards saving the poorest, sickest and hungriest people in the world.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. The Ebola survivors have great reasons to be thankful. Most of us in the US have great reasons to be thankful. It is time to realize that everyone on the earth is connected. We need to each work to help everyone everywhere to have reasons to be thankful. We are all children of the Creator. We need to be thankful that we still have a chance to make the world a better place for everyone.