Health

Treatment Of U.S. Ebola Victim Under Scrutiny

| by Jared Keever

The family of the first Ebola victim in the United States said recently they believe their loved one received “unfair” treatment that may have resulted in his death. This suggestion comes on the heels of multiple reports noting that there may be a lawsuit looming over how the hospital handled this case.

Thomas Eric Duncan of Liberia died in a Dallas, Texas, hospital Wednesday after being diagnosed with the deadly virus Sept 28. 

Duncan’s nephew Joe Weeks told ABC News he believes his uncle didn't get the same treatment as four other Ebola patients in the U.S. who have recovered from their infections.

“No one has died of Ebola in the U.S. before. This is the first time,” Weeks said. “We need all the help we can get.”

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Weeks questioned why his uncle wasn’t transported to Emory University Hospital where two other Ebola patients had been successfully treated. He also wanted to know why Duncan wasn’t given a blood transfusion from American Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly, although he admitted hospital staff told him the blood “wasn’t a match.” 

Blood transfusions from survivors is an experimental treatment, carried out in the hopes that Ebola antibodies in the survivor’s blood can be transferred to the ailing patient. 

No one knows for sure how Duncan contracted the virus. CNN reports that he initially told hospital workers that he had not been in contact with anyone who had the virus, despite having just travelled to the U.S. from Liberia on Sept. 19. 

That same story cites information from a recent New York Times article that said Duncan had been helping victims of the virus in Liberia just days before he left the country. 

Reports indicate that Duncan first showed up at a U.S. hospital Sept. 25 with a fever and complaining of stomach pains but was not admitted or diagnosed until three days later. 

Family members and their supporters now wonder if things might have been different had nurses at the hospital initially recognized Duncan’s infection.

“What if they had taken him right away? And what if they had been able to get treatment to him earlier?” said Pastor George Mason of Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas.

“He got sick and went to the hospital and was turned away, and that's the turning point here,” said the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who is now a spokesperson for the family.

Duncan’s family and his longtime partner, Dallas resident Louise Troh, also want to know why he wasn’t treated with the experimental drug Zmapp.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden said Zmapp wasn’t available for Duncan as supplies have run out.

“Unfortunately, Zmapp, which is a promising, but unproven experimental treatment for Ebola, is not available,” Frieden said. “There is, as far as we understand, no more of it in the world, and while people are working hard to manufacture more, it takes a long time to develop.”

Loved ones who were in contact with Duncan after his arrival in the U.S. are being closely monitored for signs of infection. 

Troh said through a public relations firm she expects “a thorough examination will take place regarding all aspects of his care.”

Sources: ABC News, CNN, The Daily Mail

Photo Source: YouTube: CNN