One Liberian woman has done the seemingly impossible as she successfully treated her family for Ebola without getting infected herself.
Fatu Kekula single-handedly nursed both of her parents, her sister and her cousin through the virus with a 75 percent survival rate! Sadly her 14-year-old cousin passed away due to the deadly virus, but her other patients were able to make it through. Even at that, Fatu was able to beat Ebola’s 70 percent death rate.
Even more remarkably, CNN reports that although Fatu didn’t have standard protective gear, the nursing student was still able to protect herself from the virus using trashbags. She created, her own protective barrier by tying trash bags around each of her socked feet before stepping into a pair of rain boots and tying another pair of pair of trash bags over the boots. She also wrapped her in a stocking cap and another trash bag before putting on a raincoat, four pairs of rubber gloves and a surgical mask.
Relief workers have dubbed this the “trash bag method,” and they’re teaching others in West Africa how to use it when they don’t have access to a medical facility. One key to Fatu’s success at remaining uninfected is her diligence in using the trashbag method as she never cut any corners while suiting up.
Of course it is best for Ebola patients to be treated in a hospital but many in the affected countries aren’t able to get their loved ones help at a proper infirmary because they are already full. This is the very challenge that Fatu faced when the virus hit her entire family.
Her father, Moses, became infected back in late July when Fatu took him to an area hospital to be treated for a blood pressure spike. Healthcare workers put him in an open bed where another patient had recently died; unfortunately, the hospital staff was not aware at the time that the deceased patient had passed away from Ebola.
Moses soon began to develop symptoms in the form of a fever, vomiting and diarrhea. When the hospital shut down because nurses started dying of Ebola, Fatu tried to get her dad placed at three other hospitals. They were turned away because of the facilities were packed; upon their return to their local hospital, he was diagnosed with typhoid fever.
Healthcare workers didn’t do much for him after that, so Fatu brought her dad back home, where he unwittingly infected the three other members of his family with Ebola. For two weeks, Fatu treated them with medication from a nearby clinic and fluids through an IV that she manned herself.
There were times that she feared she would lose her entire family, but they were eventually admitted to JFK Medical Center on August 17. They were already in recovery at that time, but the more advanced care went a long way to helping them be completely cured of Ebola.
“I’m very, very proud,” Moses told CNN. “She saved my life through the almighty God.”
He said in conclusion, “I’m sure she’ll be a great giant of Liberia,”
Meanwhile, in the United States, the nurse infected with Ebola after caring for Thomas Eric Duncan has been identified as Nina Pham.