Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ebola Heroes: Dr Martin Salia

Dr Martin Salia died on 17 November in isolation at the Nebraska Medical center.
Dr Salia was one of only 5 or 6 surgeons in the entire country of Sierra Leone. His wife and 2 children are US citizens, but instead of pursuing a lucrative private surgical career, Dr Salia returned to Sierra Leone to help his country. He worked long hours as surgeon and chief medical officer at Kissy Hospital in Freetown. He spent his free time putting in additional surgical time at the Connaught Hospital and Davidson Nicol Hospital in Freetown and lecturing at the University of Sierra Leone medical school. He only saw his family in Maryland a few times a year.

Had Dr Salia successfully pursued US citizenship instead of returning to his native country to assist people there, he would not have been exposed to Ebola.  Had he stopped treating patients, as many of his compatriots have, he might not have contracted Ebola.  Had Dr Salia been a US clinician volunteering with an international NGO, he might not have detected his own infection earlier, but he would have had a clearer medevac path, and his widow would not be left with a $200,000 medevac bill.

Here's to the surgeon who stayed, in the face of a disease that tears apart families and turns communities and nations against those who should be loved and remembered as heroes.

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