Update 4:30 p.m. EST: Dr. Martin Salia, a Sierra Leone surgeon who contracted Ebola and is in critical condition, has arrived at Nebraska Medical Center, the hospital said. Salia, 44, a permanent U.S. resident, was working at a Freetown hospital when he contracted the disease. He arrived in Omaha, Nebraska, at 2:45 p.m. CST, 3:45 p.m. EST) aboard a Phoenix Air flight from West Africa and was taken by ambulance to the hospital, Reuters reported.
Dr. Martin Salia, the Ebola virus disease patient expected to arrive in Nebraska Saturday for treatment, is “critically ill” and may be in worse condition than others with the disease who previously were treated in the U.S., the Omaha hospital that is ready to receive him said in a statement. Salia is expected to be in Nebraska around 3 p.m., local time, (4 p.m. EST), the hospital said.
“Although the patient’s exact condition won’t be available until doctors here evaluate him after he arrives, information coming from the team caring for him in Sierra Leone indicates he is critically ill -- possibly sicker than the first patients successfully treated in the United States,” Reuters quoted the Nebraska Medical Center as saying in a statement.
Salia, a 44-year-old surgeon who lives in Maryland with his wife and children but is not a U.S. citizen, is to be the third Ebola patient to be treated at the Nebraska Medical Center, which has a 10-bed Biocontainment Unit that was built to handle the SARS outbreak years ago. Journalist Ashoka Mukpo and Dr. Rick Sacra were the other two Ebola patients to be successfully treated at the Omaha facility. Doctors at the hospital said they are prepared to handle Salia’s case.
“Our staff has had a break since treating our last patient, so I know we’re ready to go,” Dr. Phil Smith, the unit’s medical director, told NBC News.
Salia didn’t strictly treat Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, one of the three West African countries hit hardest by the outbreak, his family told CNN. “The fact that he left here and went back to his country, that made me worry a little bit, especially when he’s a doctor ... because he doesn’t know who has the virus,” said Salia’s son, Maada Salia.
Salia’s expected arrival in Nebraska had been changed throughout Saturday. Initial reports said he would arrive at 2 p.m. local time. The hospital later pushed that back to 4 p.m., then pulled it forward to 3 p.m.