EBOLA: Young Woman Saves Three Family Members From Death
According to CNN, Fatu Kekula, 22, nursed four family members infected with Ebola. The final year student of nursing school, solely catered for her father, mother, sister and cousin by feeding them, cleaning them and administering medications.
And she did so with remarkable success. Three out of her four patients survived. That's a 25% death rate -- considerably better than the estimated Ebola death rate of 70%.
Fatu protected herself using trash bags, rubber boots, gloves and a mask. Unlike those health workers who used white space suits and googles to protect themselves from getting infected by the deadly virus, Fatu had no personal protection equipment.
Instead she invented her own protection equipment. Every day, several times a day for about two weeks, Fatu put trash bags over her socks and tied them in a knot over her calves. Then she put on a pair of rubber boots and then another set of trash bags over the boots.
She wrapped her hair in a pair of stockings and over that a trash bag. Next she donned a raincoat and four pairs of gloves on each hand, followed by a mask.
An arduous and time-consuming process, but Fatu was religious about it, never cutting corners.
International aid worker learned about Fatu's "trash bag method' and its success and are now teaching it to other West Africans who can't get into hospitals and don't have protective gear of their own.
UNICEF Spokeswoman Sarah Crowe described Fatu as an amazing woman.
"Essentially this is a tale of how communities are doing things for themselves," Crowe said. "Our approach is to listen and work with communities and help them do the best they can with what they have."
However, Crowe insisted, of course, that it would be better for patients to be in real hospitals with doctors and nurses in protective gear -- it's just that those things aren't available to many West Africans.
Fatu's encounter with Ebola started Juy 27, when her father, Moses, had a spike in blood pressure. She took him to a hospital in their home city of Kakata. At the hospital, they found a free bed because a patient had just passed away. What no one realized at the time was that the patient had died of Ebola.
Moses, 52, developed a fever, vomiting and diarrhea. Then the hospital was shut down because nurses started dying of Ebola.
Fatu took her father to Monrovia, the capital city, about a 90-minute drive via difficult roads. Three hospitals turned him away because they were full.
She took him back to another hospital in Kakata. Where he was misdiagnosed with typhoid fever and did little for him. Fatu had to take him home, where he infected three other family members: Fatu's mother, Victoria, 57; Fatu's sister, Vivian, 28, and their 14-year-old cousin who was living with them, Alfred Winnie.
Fatu consulted with their family physician who would only communicate with her via phone, but wouldn't do home visit. She gave them medicines she obtained from the local clinic and fluids through intravenous lines that she started.
At times, her patients' blood pressure dropped so low she feared she would lose them.
"I cried many times," she said. "I said 'God, you want to tell me I'm going to lose my entire family?"
But her father, mother, and sister rallied and were well on their way to recovery when space became available at JFK Medical Center on August 17. Sadly, Alfred never recovered, and passed away at the hospital the next day.
"I'm very, very proud," her father said. "She saved my life through the almighty God."
He's now working to find a scholarship for Fatu so she can complete her final year of nursing school. He strongly believe his daughter will go on to save many more people during her life.
"I'm sure she'll be a great giant of Liberia," he added.