NEW CARROLLTON, Md. (WJZ)—Ebola hits home. The latest victim is a doctor from Maryland working in Africa. His wife and son spoke to WJZ about his journey back to the United States for help.
Investigative reporter Mike Hellgren has more on the family’s emotional interview and when they expect him to get back to America for treatment in Nebraska.
The plane is expected to leave Sierra Leone Friday night with Dr. Martin Salia on board. They should arrive in Omaha on Saturday.
Salia’s wife is praying for a miracle.
“Since 1 o’clock when I spoke to him, I can’t sleep up till now. I know he’s sick,” his wife said. “He was a little slow talking.”
Isatu Salia was too upset to show her face, but bluntly told WJZ she doesn’t want to lose her husband of 21 years to Ebola.
“I don’t want him to be delayed over there,” Isatu Salia said while crying. “I’m worried for him.”
He’s a surgeon who spends his time between his home in New Carrollton, Md. and working at a Methodist hospital in his native Sierra Leone, one of the West African nations Ebola hit hardest.
He came down with a fever a few days ago and tested positive for the virus.
“They say we should keep calm and everything’s going to be OK. So far, he’s responding to treatment, so I have no doubt that everything will come out successfully,” said Maada Salia, son.
His son says his dad never worked with Ebola patients but knew the risks.
“He told us he knew the situation back home when this Ebola started. The fact that he would go back to his country and help is one thing that really amazed me because he showed the love that he has for his country,”his son said. “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, and he treats patients because he doesn’t know who has the virus.”
Maada Salia says his dad is selfless.
“He doesn’t think of himself as someone important,” he said. “He puts himself down and helps those who really need help.”
His wife is staying in New Carrollton for now. She hopes to head to Nebraska, but first he has to get there.
If he is well enough to make the flight, Dr. Salia will be taken to the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha–one of four specialized care centers in the United States.
Hellgren: “Do you have confidence that he will get the treatment that he needs?”
Wife: “Yes, I do. I do. I have the confidence because when I called CDC, and the actions that they took, I’m pleased.”
But his family knows the journey isn’t over yet.
“I just hope they bring him here and find the right treatment, and everything should be OK by then,” Maada Salia said.
The facility in Nebraska successfully treated an American news photographer, who came down with Ebola and was transported there.
Salia is the sixth doctor in Sierra Leone to contract Ebola. The other five have died.
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