LANDOVER HILLS, Md. (WJZ) — Gone too soon. Family and friends remember Dr. Martin Salia–a Maryland man who contracted Ebola while treating those with the disease in Sierra Leone.
Doctors say they used every treatment possible on Salia, but the virus progressed too far.
Rick Ritter was at the emotional funeral.
Hundreds packed the service. Several spoke about Dr. Salia. We even heard a letter written by President Obama himself, labeling the Maryland man a hero.
Side by side, carrying the ashes of a husband, father and surgeon, the family of Dr. Martin Salia remembers the man who helped shape their lives.
“He’s the man who give up his life to help other people,” said Abu Kargbl, Dr. Salia’ brother-in-law.
On November 15, Dr. Salia was flown to a Nebraska hospital after contracting the deadly virus in Sierra Leone–an Ebola hotbed in West Africa.
“He said, ‘My people need me and I need to go back there and help my people,'” Kargbl said.
Dr. Salia died just 36 hours later after going into cardiac arrest while in critical condition. His loved ones–left shattered.
“It’s amazing for somebody to be bold enough to go back and give back to their community. And the ultimate price–you lose your life,” one man said.
On Saturday, cameras weren’t allowed inside services, but a heartfelt tribute touched many.
“It was very moving, almost to the point of bringing us to the tears,” said Richard Toupin, friend of Dr. Salia.
There was also a letter read by the White House Ebola response coordinator from President Obama, saying the world needs more people like Dr. Salia.
“I was moved and touched that the president would be willing to express his condolences,” Toupin said.
A man passionate about helping others–a passion felt by many.
“He had an amazing rapport with his patients and he had a genuine compassion for them,” Toupin said.
As his legacy carries on.
“This is not the end. We still remember Dr. Salia as a hero. I declare the man as a hero,” said one man.
Family members say they’re unsure where they’ll bury Dr. Salia’s ashes, but say it could be in Sierra Leone.
The Sierra Leone ambassador to the United States also attended the funeral.
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