News agencies throughout the U.K. are happy to announce that a nurse infected with Ebola has survived. Currently, the vaccine for Ebola is making its way to Liberia. In an exclusive interview with 39-year-old Pauline Cafferkey of Cambuslang, Scotland, the Ebola survivor tells The Scotsman that she is simply, “Happy to be alive.”
The Guardian UK reports that the Ebola nurse survived the ordeal after being infected in Sierra Leone where she was working as a volunteer healthcare worker with the Save the Children hospital outside of the capital of Freetown in Kerry Town. Cafferkey was infected with Ebola, but worked with 30 other individuals from the U.K. that were NHS medical volunteers that moved to Sierra Leone last November that were not infected. All of the volunteers knew that the area that they were working in was known as a highly infectious Ebola “red zone,” and were working directly with Ebola-infected patients.
Pauline Cafferkey was admitted with a known case of Ebola to the Royal Free Hospital in London on December 30 after being previously admitted at Glasgow’s Gartnavel Hospital on December 29 where the condition was diagnosed. After battling with the condition for several days, on January 4, EuroNews English posted a video stating that Cafferkey was losing her fight with Ebola, and that her health was waning. At that time, she was given a blood plasma transfusion from an Ebola survivor in the hopes of being able to recover from her critical condition. She was also given an experimental anti-viral treatment for Ebola called ZMapp.
Before she left the Royal Free Hospital, fully recovered, Cafferkey interviewed with The Scotsman about her experiences with surviving Ebola. She admitted giving up and feeling the Ebola virus taking over her. She said she told doctors, “That’s it. I’ve had enough. I can’t carry on any more.”
When surviving Ebola, Cafferkey talked about being cooped up in an isolation tent and eating Sugar Puffs and drinking Irn-Bru (a Scottish carbonated beverage). She also felt that the track “Peer Gynt” by Edvard Grieg had a healing affect on her fight with Ebola.
About contracting the initial Ebola infection in Sierra Leone, Cafferkey says that she has “no idea” in what way she contracted Ebola. In particular, she wore a protective hazmat suit when dealing with infected people. She has also denied a report that she contracted Ebola on Christmas Day after attending a church service.
When she returned to Glasgow, Cafferkey said she started showing signs of Ebola.
“I felt fine throughout the whole journey. It wasn’t until I got home that I started to get the shivers. We were all given thermometers when we got back and I took my temperature but thought it might be a urine infection or something like that.”
Despite her unfortunate experiences with contracting Ebola there, Cafferkey says she will return one day to Sierra Leone and stated, “It’s an absolutely stunning place. The beaches, the mountains and the people are great. There’s also amazing wildlife out there but we couldn’t see much of it as there were restrictions on where we could go and what we could do.”
As for future plans, Cafferkey told The Scotsman, “I’ll be having a break from aid work and I’ve no plans to return to it at the moment, but who knows in the future…. I think I’m very fortunate to be a part of the fight against Ebola. I have absolutely no regrets about going over there.”
[All images from the referenced links.]