Ebola claims first victim in America as Texas patient dies
The first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. has succumbed to the deadly disease, a hospital spokesperson said Wednesday.
“It is with profound sadness and heartfelt disappointment that we must inform you of the death of Thomas Eric Duncan this morning at 7:51 a.m. Mr. Duncan succumbed to an insidious disease, Ebola,” the spokesperson said.
“He fought courageously in this battle.”
The announcement comes just hours after he was listed by officials in critical condition, according to Reuters.
He had been on a ventilator and a kidney dialysis machine since Tuesday and family members said he no longer had a fever and his diarrhea had ended — two of the biggest symptoms of the virus.
“The past week has been an enormous test of our health system, but for one family it has been far more personal,” Texas Department of State Health Services commissioner Dr. David Lakey said in a statement.
“Today they lost a dear member of their family. They have our sincere condolences, and we are keeping them in our thoughts.”
Lakey said the staff at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital did everything they could to save Duncan.
“The doctors, nurses and staff at Presbyterian provided excellent and compassionate care, but Ebola is a disease that attacks the body in many ways,” he said. “We’ll continue every effort to contain the spread of the virus and protect people from this threat.”
Duncan was treated with the same experimental drug — brincidofovir — that photojournalist Ashoka Mukpo is currently receiving at Nebraska Medical Center.
In addition to the drug, Mukpo will also receive treatment using the blood of Dr. Kent Brantly, who is an Ebola survivor.
Brantly — the first American to be treated for the virus in the US — previously donated his blood to help treat Dr. Richard Sacra, a US aid worker who contracted the disease while treating patients in West Africa.
Mukpo is scheduled to receive the treatment Wednesday.
Sacra — who eventually recovered from Ebola after receiving Brantly’s blood — was placed inside the same Biocontainment Unit where Mukpo is currently being treated.
It is one of only four such units in the country, with the others being located in Maryland, Montana, and Georgia.
Experts believe that a person who survives a deadly virus such as Ebola could aid in the treatment of others due to the powerful antibodies located inside their plasma, which could ultimately kickstart a patient’s immune system.
Mukpo’s father, Dr. Mitchell Levy, spoke with NBC News on Wednesday and talked about how much he truly appreciated what Brantly was doing for his son.