The death of Dr. Martin Salia from the dreaded disease Ebola came as quite a shock to his friends and coworkers in Sierra Leone. A few of the details of his illness are unclear. It’s not known when he first became ill, when he started exhibiting symptoms, or how he contracted the deadly illness. Dr. Salia was a surgeon and Chief Medical Officer of the Kissy United Methodist Hospital. According to a report by the Inquisitr, he also volunteered his services at several other medical facilities around Freetown, Sierra Leone. None of the facilities he worked in were Ebola treatment centers. He initially tested negative for the devastating virus.
Dr. Salia was a permanent resident of the United States, living in Maryland with his wife and two children. He had every opportunity to eschew the poverty of Africa and make a lucrative living in the United States by going into private practice. According to the Huffington Post, he took a pay cut to stay at Kissy, and was strongly driven by his faith. The fact that he chose to give away his talents to those who needed them but could not pay says worlds about the type of man he was.
“I strongly believe that God brought me here to fix whatever comes to my doorway.”
Salia was trained by the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons and was a deeply religious man. United Methodist Church videos show the doctor and other staff praying before a surgery.
Martin Salia was a very rare commodity. Before Ebola, he was one of only 136 physicians available to treat the nearly 6 million people of Sierra Leone. That’s roughly 44,100 patients per doctor. For comparison, the doctor per capita ratio in the U.S. is about 1:353. Ebola had already killed 5 of the 136 doctors in the country before Dr. Salia tested positive for Ebola on November 10. Air transport to the United States was arranged for the doctor. He was able to board the plane under his own power without assistance, according to a report by NPR. Unfortunately, his condition deteriorated rapidly during the sixteen and a half hour flight. When he arrived in Nebraska on November 15, he was unresponsive, struggling to breathe and in kidney failure.
Despite herculean efforts on the part of the staff at the Nebraska Medical Center, Martin Salia was in respiratory failure twelve hours after his admission. The experimental drug Zmapp, plasma transfusions from an Ebola survivor, dialysis and a ventilator failed to give him any benefit. The 44 year old doctor, who dedicated his life to helping some of the poorest and sickest people in the world, succumbed to Ebola on November 17. A fund has been started by Bishop Mark Matthews of the United Methodist Baltimore-Washington Conference for Salia’s widow and their two sons.