She Famously Survived Ebola, Only to Die in 'Silent Epidemic'

Salome Karwah Harris passed away in Liberia after childbirth complications
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2017 2:56 PM CST
Ebola Fighter Who Nabbed Time Person of the Year Honor Dies
This image provided by "Time" magazine on Dec. 10, 2014, features Salome Karwah as one of the Ebola fighters named as the Person of the Year for 2014.   (AP Photo/Time Magazine)

She became famous for surviving an Ebola outbreak, then heading back to the Liberian hospital that helped her to assist with other patients—part of what landed her among the "Ebola fighters" who won Time magazine's Person of the Year honor in 2014. But the "superpowers" Salome Karwah used to say survivors like her boasted finally gave way last week: She died Tuesday from complications following childbirth, Time reports. Now known as Salome Harris after marrying her fiance, Harris had a healthy baby boy—her fourth child—who was delivered by C-section on Feb. 17. She went home a few days later, but went into convulsions and was rushed back to the hospital—only to have staff refuse to touch her because of her past Ebola illness (she was foaming at the mouth and they were afraid of the fluids).

Karwah told her Ebola recovery story on the Doctors Without Borders website in 2014, noting that her parents ended up dying while she was recuperating and how she believed God had kept her, her fiance, and other family members alive "for a purpose." That purpose, in her mind, was to keep others from succumbing to the disease, as well as to fight against the stigma people with the virus often face—the same stigma that may have contributed to her death, her sister tells Time. A 2014 Wall Street Journal profile described Karwah's dedication, with the then-26-year-old working six days a week to feed, bathe, and comfort her sick patients. "To survive Ebola and then die in the larger yet silent epidemic of health system failure—I have no words," a health advocate who toiled alongside Karwah tells Time. (Encouraging news on the vaccine front.)

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