I wrote a post in December in which I talked about Mariatu, a 9 year old girl with profound neurological symptoms that we saw in the confirmed ward. Those of us who took care of her had serious doubts that she would survive, but we put a lot of work into taking care of her.
Our hard work paid off and she got better. During my last trip through the Ebola treatment unit (ETU), Mariatu smiled at me, which was the best going-away gift I could have received.
A few of months ago, Christian Bain sent me photographs of Mariatu as she was being discharged from the ETU. She was gaunt, but she was smiling and she was an Ebola survivor.
I wondered what happened to her after she was discharged from the ETU. Was she able to go home? Did she have family to go home to? Did she have residual neurological deficits? I asked some of my colleagues who were in Sierra Leone about her. Martha Phillips wrote, "She was discharged to Government Hospital and nearly died there, but Guy and Christian and Dani [Kloepper] intervened, and she did survive."
This week Christian and Dani sent me some recent photographs of her. She's home with her family and she looks great! Those photographs make me very happy and I wish I could share them with you, but Mariatu is a former patient of mine and I am ethically, if not legally obliged to respect her confidentiality.
Mariatu's survival was due to the hard work of a lot of people. Working with her was usually a two- and sometimes a three-person job. Although she was able to sit up and feed herself when I left, she was still very sick. I doubt that Mariatu would have survived without the care that she received and the guidance that I received from Tracy Kelly, a pediatric nurse practitioner.
For me, Mariatu's survival is the pinnacle of all of the successes we achieved in Maforki. Caring for her was challenging; it required investments of time, effort, and compassion from a group of outstanding health care providers. Those of us who cared for Mariatu ran the risk of suffering disappointment and heartbreak if she died. I don't think any of us felt that it was a risk not worth taking.
Thank you Christian and Dani for the joy the photographs of Mariatu give me. Thank you for your part in her survival.
Thank you to all of my colleagues at Maforki.