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Sneak Peek At The Ebola Diaries: A Doctor Opens Her Heart, Journal

Last year Dr. Kwan Kew Lai volunteered at an Ebola treatment center run by International Medical Corps in Bong County, Liberia.
Courtesy of Kwan Kew Lai
Last year Dr. Kwan Kew Lai volunteered at an Ebola treatment center run by International Medical Corps in Bong County, Liberia.

Tomorrow Morning Edition will broadcast an audio documentary based on a blog by American doctor Kwan Kew Lai. Starting last October, Dr. Lai wrote almost every day, for six weeks, while volunteering at an Ebola treatment center in Bong, Liberia.

Lai is an infectious disease specialist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. She has volunteered in several disasters — the hurricane in Haiti, the war in Libya. But she says she has never seen anything like what she witnessed in Liberia.

Lai's writings offer a rare and moving window into a world we've only gotten glimpses of. On Thursday, Goats and Soda will feature a collection of excerpts from Lai's blog.

In the meantime, here's a sneak peek.

This excerpt is from a post on Oct. 29, 2014. Lai is about a third of her way through her time at the treatment center. She has watched many patients die. And she's struggling to keep it together. One afternoon, she sits down on the back steps of a tent to grab a quiet moment:

All of a sudden someone yelled, "A snake, a snake, kill it!"

A three-foot greenish brown snake slithered from the Stock Room a few feet from where I sat, went under the fence and, in a flash, crossed the red dirt road as a piece of wood was hurled over the fence, narrowly missing it. Two grave diggers happened to walk up the path at the end of their work day and one was running towards it as though he was going to step on it.

"Don't kill it, let it go!" I said.

But it was faster than the man and it disappeared into the thicket of cassava bushes even before he could reach it.

He asked, "Why don't you want me to kill it? I can eat it."

I didn't want to say that death has been so pervasive here, it would be good to spare a life. Instead I said that the snake might turn around and bite him.

"Oh," He said. "Thanks for coming here to fight Ebola for our families."

Read the full post on Lai's blog. And come back to Goats and Soda Thursday for the audio version.

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

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