By Dennis Thompson
MONDAY, Nov. 17, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A doctor from Sierra Leone who became infected with Ebola in his native country died Monday morning at a specialized hospital in Nebraska.
Dr. Martin Salia had arrived Saturday at Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. He was a general surgeon who had been working at a hospital in Sierra Leone's capital city of Freetown.
Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia are the three West African countries that have been ravaged by the Ebola outbreak that began last spring and is the worst in history.
"It is with an extremely heavy heart that we share this news," Dr. Phil Smith, medical director of the Biocontainment Unit at Nebraska Medical Center, said in a news release. "Dr. Salia was extremely critical when he arrived here, and unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we weren't able to save him."
Salia was suffering from advanced symptoms of Ebola when he arrived at the hospital Saturday that included kidney and respiratory failure. He was placed on dialysis, a ventilator and numerous medications to support his organ systems. He also received a dose of blood plasma and the experiment Ebola drug ZMapp on Saturday.
Nebraska Medical Center is one of four U.S. hospitals with biocontainment units that include advanced features designed to handle dangerous pathogens like the Ebola virus.
Their special isolation units include layer upon layer of safety measures to prevent the spread of lethal pathogens, not just Ebola. The units include special air filters, dunk tanks full of antiseptic, dedicated lab equipment and so-called autoclaves to sterilize any medical waste before it is transported from a unit.
Salia, 44, lived in Maryland with his wife and was a permanent U.S. resident.
He was the third Ebola patient treated at the Nebraska hospital and the 10th person with Ebola to be treated in the United States. Until, Salia, all but one had recovered after treatment. The only patient who didn't recover was Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national who became infected with the disease in his homeland before traveling to Dallas in late September to visit family. He died Oct. 8 at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.
The most recent U.S. patient to be treated for Ebola, Dr. Craig Spencer, was released from a New York City hospital last week. Spencer, 33, contracted the often-fatal illness while caring for Ebola patients in Guinea.
The disease has killed more than 5,000 people in West Africa, mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.