How an American Patient Changed Ebola Treatment

Despite ordeal, Dr. Ian Crozier plans to return to West Africa
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2014 1:36 PM CST
How an American Patient Changed Ebola Treatment
In this photo taken on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014, health workers spray the shrouded body of a man with disinfectant at an American aid Ebola treatment center on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia.   (AP Photo/ Abbas Dulleh)

Doctors feared an American colleague flown to Atlanta for Ebola treatment would die—and he nearly did. But Ian Crozier, a Rhodesia-born doctor who treated patients in Sierra Leone, has lived to tell his tale to the New York Times, which reports that his treatment in Atlanta has helped change the way the disease is handled. Previously, dialysis and ventilators were seen as little help in treating the illness, since patients who needed them were believed to be near death. "Ian was by far the sickest patient with Ebola virus that we’ve cared for at Emory," a doctor tells the paper. But, says another one, "one of the things Ian taught us was, guess what, you can get sick enough to need those interventions and you can still walk out of the hospital."

Now, Crozier recounts the devastation of his time in Sierra Leone, where the living would lie suffering while a dead body awaited clearing on the next bed. Still, even "in such a dark place," there were "little cracks of joy," he notes, remembering two boys who wouldn't leave the side of their elder, and sicker, brother. Meanwhile, "childless parents took care of parentless children," he says. As for Crozier himself, experts also feared the possibility of brain damage. But he appears to be doing well, though he says he feels like his thinking has been slowed. "Am I going to be myself again, completely?" he wonders. In at least one respect, it seems the answer is yes: He plans a return to Sierra Leone early next year, the Times reports. Click for the full piece. (More Ebola stories.)

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