Ebola outbreak: Survivor William Pooley is flown to US to give doctor with virus emergency blood transfusion

British nurse cured of Ebola hopes to help doctor with same blood type

William Pooley, the British nurse who was cured of the Ebola, has been flown to America on a life-saving mission to give blood to a new victim of the deadly virus.

Mr Pooley has travelled to Atlanta for an emergency blood transfusion which could save the life of a doctor who contracted the disease while working in Sierra Leone.

The 29-year-old, who became the first Briton to contract Ebola, could help the US victim fight off the virus because his blood carries antibodies for the disease, the Evening Standard reports.

Mr Pooley was put on a flight on Friday night, paid for by the World Health Organisation, to Atlanta where the doctor is being treated in an isolation unit at Emory University Hospital.

Just hours earlier the Foreign Office had urgently issued him with a new passport because his was incinerated with all of his belongings after he returned from Africa.

Mr Pooley, from Suffolk, and the new patient, who has not been named, are said to be close friends after working together at the Ebola treatment centre in Kenema, Sierra Leone.

The pair, who both contracted the disease while helping to save the lives of thousands of Africans suffering from the disease, have the same blood type, making Mr Pooley an ideal donor.

More than 2,500 people have died from Ebola in recent months and almost 4,700 people have been infected, making it the largest outbreak in history.

As part of their treatment, patients are given intravenous fluids, blood transfusions and antibiotics to bolster their immune systems. The blood of survivors contains natural antibodies that can protect against Ebola.

When transferred to another patient, doctors say, the sufferer appears to benefit from the boost to their immune system.

The aid worker, who is the fourth American to contract Ebola, arrived at the hospital eight days ago on a specially equipped plane from Sierra Leone.

After he was admitted, infectious diseases specialist Dr Aneesh Mehta, one of the five doctors working in the special isolation unit at Emory University Hospital, said the team were looking at all treatment options for the patient.

“We believe the supportive care – allowing the body to heal itself and supporting it through that process – is the mainstay of therapy, as is true for any infectious disease,” he said. “If we have therapeutic options, we’ll evaluate those.”             

There is no approved cure for Ebola and in the short term the WHO has said that blood transfusions from survivors are likely to be the most effective method of tackling the outbreak. Work is currently under way to establish a registry of survivors complete with their blood types in order to begin the process of extracting their plasma for use to treat future victims.

Rick Sacra, a 51-year-old American doctor who contracted Ebola while working in a maternity hospital in Liberia, is currently being treated with blood plasma transfusions at Nebraska Medical Centre in Omaha from survivor and fellow US missionary Dr Kent Brantly, 33.

He is also being treated with an experimental drug, believed to be ZMapp, which saved the lives of Mr Pooley, Dr Brantly and another American aid worker Nancy Writebol.

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Young volunteers wear carry the bodies of people, sterilized after dying due to the Ebola virus, to a car in Sierra Leone

Mr Pooley, who plans to travel back to Sierra Leone to help fight the outbreak once he returns from the US, made an astonishing recovery just ten days after being airlifted from Sierra Leone to the Royal Free Hospital for life-saving treatment.

The medical team at the hospital in Hampstead treated Mr Pooley with ZMapp. He was given his first dose of the drug on 25 August, a day after he was airlifted back to Britain by a specially equipped C17 RAF jet.

A spokeswoman from the Foreign Office said: “Following a request from his family, the FCO Consular Team and the UK Passport Office worked together to get a replacement passport to Will Pooley within 24 hours, this enabled him to fly out to the US immediately and potentially assist with the treatment of an Ebola victim.”

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