US doctor cured of Ebola continues his work in Liberia

2015-09-25 10:01

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Worcester, Mass - This time last year, Dr Rick Sacra was given a second chance at life.

On September 25 2014, the 52-year-old Massachusetts physician had just been discharged from an Omaha, Nebraska, hospital after being treated and cured of Ebola.

Sacra had contracted the deadly virus while delivering babies in a Christian mission hospital in Liberia. Rushed back to the US, he spent three weeks suffering through fevers, vomiting, diarrhea and aches.

Sacra says his faith gave him peace through the uncertainty.

"Of course I knew that I might die," he told The Associated Press this week, reflecting on the ordeal. "It made me very aware of how grateful I am for every day I'm given."

Other than an eye problem that nagged him until late January, Sacra says he's now fully recovered.

"I'm doing fine, 100%," he says before deftly pivoting to acknowledge that many West African Ebola survivors still deal with serious health complications, the anguish of losing loved ones, and stigmatisation and fear upon returning to their battered communities.

"Some risks are worth taking"

Sacra says he doesn't regret a thing. "Some risks are worth taking," he says. "Even if I had died due to Ebola last year, I would not have changed what I did."

He's wasted little time resuming the medical mission work that he's done for the greater part of his adult life.

Effectively rendered immune to Ebola, the University of Massachusetts Medical School assistant professor has returned to Liberia three times so far this year. Notably, he was the first of America's handful of Ebola survivors to return to West Africa last January.

He also went back in April and July for additional stints at the mission hospital just outside the Liberian capital of Monrovia where he's worked, off and on, for about two decades.

Sacra, who plans to return again in November, says the need for able health care workers is just as great now as it was during the throes of the epidemic last year, which the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says has claimed more than 11 000 lives.

"I can make a difference"

Many Liberians who stayed away from hospitals at the peak of the epidemic are just starting to return with serious chronic ailments such as heart disease and Aids, he says, pushing already strained health care facilities beyond capacity.

Just weeks ago, Liberia was declared "Ebola-free" for the second time this year. Neighbouring Sierra Leone and Guinea, however, continue to see a small trickle of new Ebola cases each week, signs that the virus has been controlled but not completely eradicated.

Sacra continues to speak at churches and colleges about his experience and has no plans to stop his quarterly trips back to Liberia.

"When Liberia is on its feet again and it doesn't need help anymore, I'll probably move on to someplace else," he said. "But as long as the needs are there and I can make a difference, I think I ought to keep doing it."

Read more on:    us  |  liberia  |  ebola  |  west africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.