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Doctor Receiving Ebola Treatment in Sierra Leone as Wife Waits in US

  • Kim Lewis

The Ebola outbreak continues to take its toll on doctors in Sierra Leone.

Dr. Martin Salia, a specialist surgeon who was working at a major hospital in the capital of Freetown as part of his residency, has become the sixth Sierra Leonean doctor to become infected with the Ebola virus.

Five other Sierra Leonean doctors have succombed to the virus, and at present Dr. Salia is receiving treatment for the illness at an Ebola treatment center in Sierra Leone.

His wife, Isatu Salia, frantically awaits updates on her husband’s health at their home in New Carrollton, Maryland. She said she has not been able to speak with him since his diagnosis and is desparate to talk to him. She described her reaction when she found out her husband had contracted the Ebola virus.

“He told me when he was feeling sick, he called me and talked to me—he was not feeling well-- so the fever persist[ed] and he had to go to one of the Ebola centers. When they did the first test (test for Ebola), it was negative, so we were all happy. The fever still persist[ed] and he had to go again to see his primary care physician. So the second one came…it [was] negative. And the third one came positive,” explained Salia.

She said she then received a tearful call from her sister-in-law with the news that her husband, Dr. Salia, tested positive for Ebola.

“I just went down on the floor for two hours—I don’t even know what I was doing,” said Salia.

Through tears, she described how she has desparately been trying to obtain information about her husband’s condition.

“He’s somewhere in the center. I have to hear from him. I don’t know what is going on…nobody’s talking to me, and I need to know what’s going on with him,” Salia cried.

Her sister-in-law, her husband’s eldest sister who also works at the same hospital as Dr. Salia, has provided Salia with some information, but not much. Salia said her sister-in-law even tried but failed to to work as a volunteer at the Ebola center where her brother is being treated.

Dr. Salia was working as a specialist surgeon at a hospital that was not part of the Ebola center. It is not known at this time how he contracted the virus.

The doctor and his wife have two children, a twenty-year-old and a twelve-year-old. Isatu Salia describes how her children are coping with the news of their father’s sickness.

“The little one is a little bit quiet. He was not feeling well yesterday, but today he’s good. The older one is the one talking to me—‘that I will be fine in Jesus name’,” commented Salia.

Unable to contain her emotions Salia lamented, “he’s the sixth doctor in Sierra Leone that has contracted this disease, and the five, they died! I want them to save my husband—please—at least let me hear his voice. I know my husband. If I talk to him, I know he will be strong. I need to hear his voice. His phone is turned off. They wanted him to rest. I just need to hear his voice.”