© 2024 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WEDH · WEDN · WEDW · WEDY · WNPR
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
ATSC 3.0 FAQ
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The Ebola Survivor Who Works In An Ebola Ward

Patients recovering from Ebola at the Kenema treatment center must remain behind white plastic fencing until they are officially discharged.
Peter Breslow
/
NPR
Patients recovering from Ebola at the Kenema treatment center must remain behind white plastic fencing until they are officially discharged.
Survivor Dauda Fullah now works in the Ebola ward in Kenema, Sierra Leone. Here he emerges soaking wet from his shift inside the stifling ward, where he wears full body protection.
Peter Breslow / NPR
/
NPR
Survivor Dauda Fullah now works in the Ebola ward in Kenema, Sierra Leone. Here he emerges soaking wet from his shift inside the stifling ward, where he wears full body protection.

Dauda Fullah works in the tent where he faced his own death.

The skinny 23-year-old was an Ebola patient at the treatment center set up at Kenema Hospital in Sierra Leone.

Fullah's father had contracted the disease a few months ago and died a few days later. He helped bury his dad; that night he came down with a fever.

"I had to run fast to the hospital, because I knew that I have been with my dad," he recalls. He tested positive for Ebola and was admitted to this clinic. Then, the rest of his family fell ill and joined him inside the tent: his stepmother, his younger brother and sister, his grandmother.

Fullah recovered. But one by one, his family members passed away, just a few yards from his bed.

Before he fell ill, Fullah had worked as a lab technician in a hospital. When he got better, he asked if he could work at the Ebola ward. He was hired to draw blood.

He feels it's a way of helping out, just as other helped him when he was ill, "going in, sacrific[ing] their lives to fight for mine. So I have to do the same. I have that humanitarian feeling for those admitted here now."

He provides more than medical support. Helena Makeni, a nurse who cared for Fullah, says that he encourages the patients who are really struggling. He goes up to them and says, "Look, I've been through this, and I survived. Just do what the doctors say, and keep fighting." And they listen.

To Makeni, who's seen 37 colleagues contract Ebola and die, it makes sense to hire survivors like Fullah. She believes "they are more safer than us."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it's unclear if Ebola survivors have long-term immunity to the disease. There are no known cases of Ebola survivors getting reinfected, and monkeys remain immune for years. But there's not enough data on humans to be certain.

Nonetheless, the CDC and other health organizations are planning to train survivors to work in Ebola treatment centers and provide home care. As a precaution, protective gear is provided. Fullah wears a plastic suit, goggles and rubber gloves.

The job is brutal in many ways. "It's really hot," he says, emerging from a shift soaked in sweat. "Very much difficult to work in there because you don't have fresh air around you."

Then there's the emotional stress. "It's very, very hard seeing people die. Really, I don't want to talk about it." But he says he'll stand by the doctors and nurses, who are now like family to him.

"Every day I pray for my colleagues," he says, "so that this Ebola thing, the Almighty will just take it far away from the world."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.

Related Content