Update: Statement from Debbie Sacra

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Debbie Sacra spoke to the press today about the continuing improvement of her husband’s condition. Dr. Rick Sacra contracted Ebola while serving at ELWA Hospital in Liberia:

Good afternoon. Thank you for coming and for the continuing concern for Rick as he recovers from Ebola disease. As we have released information each day, you have seen that he is steadily improving. We are so appreciative of the attention and professionalism of the Biocontainment Unit team here at the Nebraska Medical Center. We have all been cared for on every level by the physicians, nurses and administrators at this great institution. Nebraska should be proud.

We are amazed at how quickly Rick’s condition seemed to turn around after he was admitted on Friday. As his friend Kent Brantly said on national TV, we attribute his recovery to both faith and science. Rick asked me to say that he is humbled and overwhelmed by the words of kindness and support that he has received since his diagnosis with Ebola virus disease. Old friends from years past, new friends whom he has not met and a long list of those who have supported our mission work for 25 years have all joined in a mighty chorus of prayer on his behalf. These prayers have made him know that God is near and they have sustained him.

We thank God for his mercy in preserving Rick’s life AND we are also thankful for the research drug and excellent supportive medical care that is available because he was able to be evacuated to the United States. We are hoping most of all that what is learned from Rick’s and his colleagues’ illness can open up viable possibilities for the treatment of Ebola in West Africa where the suffering is now extending far beyond the victims of the virus itself.

Rick went to Liberia at the beginning of August because he could see that the Ebola crisis was setting off a domino effect in the Liberian healthcare system—not only was there inadequate medical care for those with Ebola disease, but patients with common health problems were not getting treatment. Those with high blood pressure would not be filling their prescriptions, those with diabetes would not be able to have their blood tests and parents were going to lose their young children because they had contracted malaria and there would be no place to receive the lifesaving iv drugs they needed.

When Rick arrived at the beginning of August, there was not one box of gloves to be purchased in the city of Monrovia so clinics and hospitals had almost no choice but to close their doors until they could get the supplies they needed. Rick himself had to go all around the city to hardware stores to find boots for the OB and OR staff. The first week the hospital opened for obstetrics, they received a dozen women who had been to multiple hospitals after long and unsuccessful labor, and none were open to perform a cesarean section. By the time these women arrived at ELWA Hospital, only the mother’s life could be saved. Rick was heartbroken.

I know I am speaking a bit long, but we want people to understand what is really happening in Liberia. We appreciate all the attention and concern for Rick, but he wants you to share his burden for the people of Liberia and West Africa, to carry it along with him. We appreciate that many have given to our mission and many other organizations to make sure that health workers have protective equipment. But the fight against this crisis is going to take more time and resources. We in America enjoy many benefits from globalization, and we’d like to think that we can isolate ourselves from a situation like the one in Liberia – but every day and every week that we don’t do what we can to stop Ebola in West Africa, we are risking the possibility that it will not stay in West Africa.

Statement released by The Nebraska Medical Center.

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