Dr. Senga Omeonga is a surgeon in Liberia. He is also a survivor of Ebola, one of the most deadly diseases on the planet. Dr. Omeonga says that his boss came to work concerned about the fact that he’d just received news that can only be considered a nightmare. A man he’d shaken hands with earlier was later diagnosed to have the Ebola virus.
This concerned the director of the clinic, so he was tested. He hadn’t been feeling well and had many of the symptoms of the disease: A fever, vomiting, and a headache. Ironically, the tests on the director came back negative, saying that he was free of the deadly disease. So, Dr. Omeonga and his colleagues took care of the director, but didn’t use the typical precautions that they would had he had Ebola. They figured that he had malaria or one of the other illnesses they’d treated many times in the past.
The problem for the clinic is that the test was a false negative. So, everyone’s fears were confirmed when it turned out that the director had the Ebola bvirus. At that point, there was a race against the clock, since the disease kills most of those who’ve been infected. According to the doctor, “We wore gloves but we were not very strict at all.”
This led to one of the most riveting stories imaginable about the Ebola virus and how many of the people in Dr. Omeonga’s clinic died. A total of nine of his co-workers were dead after the ordeal, and only five survived. You have to read this interview with the doctor about what he went through. It lets us know what we’re up against.
After reading this, we ask you: Do you believe that the federal government can protect Americans from this disease?
A week later, the director’s symptoms got worse, and he was tested again. This time, it came back positive for Ebola—the first test was a false negative. Suddenly, everyone who had cared for him was a possible Ebola case. The hospital became a quarantine zone. The director died on August 2, the same day Omeonga began to feel sick. Of the 20 health workers who had been in contact with him during that week, fifteen came down with Ebola a short while later, including Omeonga. Nine of Omeonga’s colleagues died. He and five others survived.
Omeonga spoke on the phone with Newsweek from his home in Liberia where, a month and a week after being declared Ebola-free, he is still working to regain his strength.
What does having Ebola feel like?
It’s difficult to describe. I’m a very healthy person. It was my first experience with having a sickness like this. It’s very very bad. You’re extremely weak, with intense fatigue. You can’t do anything. You’re vomiting, and you’re having fever, and a headache. It’s not like malaria. Malaria, you can be walking around and you can take your medicine. Ebola is very very different. It’s like your body doesn’t belong to you anymore. You feel helpless. Someone needs to care for you at all times.
What was it like being quarantined in the hospital with all of your colleagues?
We all had the same symptoms. Every day, more and more of us started complaining of the symptoms. Sometimes we were laughing together and everything was fine, that was only in the beginning. But once everyone got really sick, no one could get up from their bed.