As of January 14, 2015, ten Americans or American residents have contracted the Ebola virus in the midst of the current West African outbreak of the deadly disease . The majority of those patients contracted Ebola while working in affected West African countries and were transported to the United States for emergency treatment. Two of the ten died of the disease.
Dr. Rick Sacra contracted Ebola while working with Servicing In Mission in Liberia, and was medically airlifted to Omaha, Nebraska for treatment at the Nebraska Medical Center's state of the art bio-containment unit. He eventually recovered in September 2014, and now, he's prepared to return to Liberia to do further medical missionary work.
He joined us today to talk about his medical work, his call to mission and why he feels compelled to return to work in West Africa.
"Of course, patients when they come to the hospital don't have a big red E on their forehead to tell you 'I have Ebola,'" Sacra said. "We were dealing mainly with maternity patients...all the hospitals were closed, so we felt pregnancy care was most critical."
During his third week in Monrovia, Liberia, one of the pregnant women under his care died of Ebola, and he soon developed a lasting fever. Before he contracted Ebola, the hospital hadn't taken the recommended precautions for preventing the spread of Ebola when treating and caring for pregnant women and their children.
"You can only last an hour, an hour and a half in that get-up," Sacra said. "You can't run a hospital like that. But we have made some changes in how we suit up and bleach during and after a birth."
Medical experts have told Dr. Sacra that he is now immune to the Zaire strain of Ebola he contracted, he said. "I don't plan to test that," Sacra said. "I don't blame to forego protective gear or play with live bats while I'm there."
Still, Dr. Sacra is eager to return to his practice.
"Ever since I was young, I've been motivated to do this kind of work," Sacra said. "As a Christian I look to Jesus as my model. He spent his days going to people who didn't have everything they needed and were lost and forgotten and healing them and touching them and encouraging them and he asks us to to do the same. That's my motivation."