On the Frontlines of Ebola: A Day of Three Miracles

Typically, Time Magazine’s “person of the year” is a big shot politician, an inventor pushing new boundaries of technology, or fighter of social justice. But, this year there wasn’t just one person that Time felt should be dubbed v.i.p. of the year, but an entire group of people: those who are leading the fight against Ebola.

2014 was the year that an outbreak became an epidemic, reaching out of Africa and touching down upon North America and Europe. The hundreds of doctors and nurses who went in to fight the disease and try to prevent it from claiming one less victim did so while knowingly putting themselves at risk for infection. In the simplest of terms: they’re heroes.

One of the most inspiring stories that you probably haven’t heard about is Dr. Monica Arend-Trujillo’s “day of three miracles” while treating Ebola patients with the Doctors Without Borders program in Sierra Leone. Two patients who were at the foot of death’s doorstep were discharged on the same day that a baby girl triumphed over the disease when the odds were against her. Dr. Arend-Trujillo’s account of the day is a pretty moving read and really puts in perspective just how important these heroes are.

When Hassan was brought in, he was almost dead. He wasn’t moving or speaking; he had constant diarrhea; he was confused, disoriented, and lethargic. The nurses were amazing; they’d spend 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 center was Mohamed, the second sickest patient I’ve ever seen… [But he too] went from strength to strength. 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.
We also discharged Hassan’s 10-month-old niece, Kumba. The baby arrived with her mother, who had Ebola, in an ambulance alongside lots of Ebola-positive patients…
A large number of our patients are nearly recovered — they are just waiting for a final negative test result — so the atmosphere in the high-risk zone is really positive.
Some of the women have formed a group and become friends; they take baths together, tell jokes, run races along the corridor to keep fit, dance together. I danced along with them in my protective suit.

Needless to say, the work that the Doctors Without Borders program is doing is crucial to the survival of many and preventing diseases like Ebola from having an even greater deadly reach. If you’d like to donate to the problem and help save even more lives in 2015, follow the link here.

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