WORCESTER, Mass. — Dr. Rick Sacra knew what he was getting into when he went to Liberia in early August to treat very ill pregnant women and deliver babies at a time when the West African nation was dealing with an outbreak of Ebola.
But Sacra, who contracted Ebola and was treated successfully in an isolation unit at the Nebraska Medical Center before returning home to Massachusetts, shrugged off any suggestion that he was a hero. He said there are many people, including firefighters, police officers and military personnel, who head toward dangerous situations instead of steering away.
"I don't think it's any different from any of them," he told reporters Friday at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, which he attended.
"I mean, I think we all, too, have that human instinct that says I can't leave somebody who's in need, I have to help — and it's as simple as that," Sacra said at his second news conference in as many days.
Sacra, 51, is one of three American aid workers successfully treated after contracting the Ebola virus in West Africa. He has spent much of the last 15 years working in Liberia as a missionary doctor. He had been working at a Liberian hospital with the North Carolina-based charity SIM when he contracted Ebola.
With his wife, Debbie, by his side, Sacra said Friday that he has no regrets and will almost certainly one day return to Liberia, a place he called his "adopted second home."
"I think the odds of my ending up back there are pretty high," he said.
Sacra said he is grateful he was able to receive specialized medical care in the United States, including an experimental drug and blood transfusions from one of his colleagues who recovered from Ebola.
He said it's heartbreaking for him to see Liberians suffering from Ebola and called for more medical resources to be sent there and other West African countries.
Sacra, who lives in Holden, just outside Worcester, said he's tired and his legs are wobbly. He expects it to take two or three months for him to fully recover.
For now, he said, it's great to be home with his wife and three grown children, and to sleep in his own bed.
"We will be taking care of him a little more than he usually takes care of himself," his wife said.