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Dublin: 11 °C Saturday 23 February, 2019
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Baby girl survives Ebola 'against all the odds'

Despite these positive stories, Doctors Without Borders said the outbreak is far from over.

Monica, and a photo of a family of Ebola survivors: Amie, 70 years old,  her daughter Jattu, 26 years old, and her granddaughter Rosaline, 2.
Monica, and a photo of a family of Ebola survivors: Amie, 70 years old, her daughter Jattu, 26 years old, and her granddaughter Rosaline, 2.
Image: P.K. Lee

A BABY GIRL has been discharged from a hospital in Sierre Leone, having tested negative for Ebola.

The baby arrived with her mother, who had Ebola, in an ambulance alongside lots of Ebola-positive patients. Despite this, and despite being breastfed, she was negative when tested.

Sierra Leone

Dr Monica Arend-Trujillo who is treating Ebola patients in Bo, Sierra Leone said the baby was put in a separate cubicle, but soon she developed a fever.

“We started treating her with antibiotics. But when we retested her after a week, we discovered she was still negative, so she was able to go home with her uncle. Her mother is being tested today, and I am sure she will be negative too.”

Dr Arend-Trujillo from Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders said:

Yesterday was a day of three miracles – two of our sickest ever patients were discharged, and a baby girl survived against all the odds. When Hassan was brought in, he was almost dead. He wasn’t moving or speaking; he had constant diarrhoea; he was confused, disorientated and lethargic.

unnamed (4) Dr Monica Arend-Trujillo in Bo, Sierra Leone Source: PK Lee/MSF.

She said the nurses were amazing, spending half an hour at a time trying to feed him and give him water.

Then, one day, when I went into the high-risk zone, he was talking again. The next day he was sitting up in bed, and said to me, ’Tomorrow, I’m going to walk’. The following day, he walked outside to where all the recovering patients sit.
I couldn’t believe the transformation – even his face had changed. By the next day he was surrounded by a group of friends and was playing cards with them.

Hassan’s closest friend in the centre, Mohamed, was the second sickest patient Dr Arend-Trujillo said she had ever seen. One night Mohamed became angry and confused. She said this was usually a very bad sign when people develop mental problems.

“He was threatening the other patients, who started panicking and running through the corridors, trying to get away from him.”

Eventually a hygienist and a water and sanitation specialist persuaded him to take an anti-psychotic drug, which knocked him out. When Mohamed woke up, he was calm again, and from then on he went from strength to strength.

Recovery 

He sat outside with Hassan, the two of them playing cards, making jokes and saying how healthy they felt. And yesterday they were discharged, and left together for Moyamba.

She said a large number of our patients are nearly recovered, with many just waiting for a final negative test result. “The atmosphere in the high-risk zone is really positive,” she said.

Some of the women have formed a group and become friends, she said, taking baths together, telling jokes, running races along the corridor to keep fit, and dance together.

I danced along with them in my protective suit.

When Ebola patients start recovering they become super hungry, she said, adding that three meals are just not enough.

One woman asked her family to bring food, and then shared it with all the others. Another woman was very weak; she was vomiting and had diarrhoea, but the main problem was depression.Both her mother and aunt had died, and altogether she had lost 17 members of her extended family. You never saw her smiling, and she didn’t want to talk. But now she is part of the group, and she is talking and shouting along with the others.

Although these are positive stories from Sierre Leone, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders said the epidemic is still very unpredictable.

A spokesperson for the organisation said:

We’ve seen a lull in cases in one area only to see the numbers spike again later. The international response needs to be more flexible. When there is a drop in cases there should be a renewed effort to fortify the basic elements of a response including contract tracing, safe burials, and community sensitisation.What we know for sure is that the outbreak is far from over and more help is needed.

Read: Are German motorbikes the key to fighting Ebola?>

Read: A doctor has died from Ebola at a Nebraska hospital>

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