Thursday, 31 July 2014

Meet Ebola victims that survive the deadly virus

VICTORIA Yillah, is identified as the first person to be cured of the deadly Ebola virus in Sierra Leone. Victoria was pregnant when she was discharged from hospital in the eastern city of Kenema after hovering for weeks between life and death battling the tropical disease.

“I am thankful to God to have survived the ordeal. I can hardly say more, I am overjoyed,” she told the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation. Health officials in Kenema say no other Sierra Leonean had been given the all-clear before Yillah’s recovery, although three more unnamed survivors have since been announced.

“Victoria was among people tested and confirmed as having the Ebola disease. She tested positive three times,” said district medical officer Mohamed Vandi. “We are thankful that we didn’t lose her. The family is grateful to God and to all others that fought to save her life,” said her husband Saidu.

Acclaimed survivor
Victoria isn’t the only acclaimed survivor of Ebola disease. The World Health Organisation reported seven survivors in 2002 after the disease broke out in Kibaale district, South Western Uganda. One them was Gloria Tumwijuke, a midwife, who contracted Ebola in the course of her duty. “I will continue to love and serve”, she vowed as she was introduced as one of the survivors of Ebola.

In tears, Gloria narrated how she unknowingly contracted Ebola while helping a mother in labour. “I came in contact with her blood which is common in my  work, but after one week, I fell sick with symptoms of Ebola”, she narrated. Her condition deteriorated and she was eventually transferred to Mulago National Referral Hospital in Kampala for advanced care.

The Uganda Virus Research Institute in Entebbe was quick in testing Gloria’s blood sample. Within hours UVRI positively confirmed the Ebola virus as the cause of her illness  one more example of a dedicated midwife that indeed got the infection in the line of duty. Miraculously, Gloria recovered. “I thank God to be alive, I am just lucky, but I am suffering from the after effects of the disease. I forget a lot and I have lost all my hair as you can see. But doctors tell me I am okay and I will overcome these problems with time”.

But for Alice Ngonzi Isoke, another Ebola survivor, the situation is rather different – even tragic. Alice is from the family with the probable index case and most of the Ebola deaths from this outbreak occurred in her family. “We really suffered; most of my brothers, their wives and my father died. On one day we buried three people and almost all of us at home were sick,” she narrated.

Most of the boys in Alice’s family died, she is now the heir to her father and head of the family. “I am now my mother’s husband, my sister’s father and my child’s grandfather,” she announced  amid laughter and looking at her mother who is also an Ebola survivor.  Alice’s dilemma is compounded by the stigma she and her family have to endure in the village. “Ever since I left the hospital, nobody comes here anymore; people don’t even come to our home. They think we still have Ebola”.

Then there is Diana Alinaitwe, Alice’s sister-in-law who was married to Alice’s young brother who died of Ebola. As the disease claimed lives in Alice’s family where Diana also lived, she decided to return to her father’s home in Manyinja Village, Kyebando Sub County. The fear and stigma for Ebola is so deeply rooted in this community to the extent that Diana was not only rejected by her parents, but also chased away! No amount of explaining and counseling would convince them to accept their own daughter.

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