OMAHA, Neb. — When an American photojournalist suffering from the deadly Ebola virus arrives at a Nebraska hospital for treatment on Monday, doctors there will be applying the lessons they learned from their treatment last month of another Ebola patient.
Officials with the Nebraska Medical Center have declined to confirm that it is 33-year-old Ashoka Mukpo they will be treating, citing federal medical privacy laws. But Mukpo's family confirmed Friday that he was expected to leave Liberia in West Africa on Sunday and arrive in Omaha on Monday.
The Omaha hospital's 40-member isolation unit medical team will have to evaluate its new Ebola patient before determining how it will treat him, Dr. Rosanna Morris said Friday. But she said the team learned a lot from treating American aid worker Rick Sacra for three weeks in September.
"Truly, focusing on symptom management is key with these patients," Morris said.
Sacra was successfully treated in the Nebraska isolation unit — one of four nationwide and the largest with 10 beds. Sacra was flown from Liberia to the Omaha unit on Sept. 5 and spent three weeks before being released Sept. 25 and returning to his home state of Massachusetts.
Sacra received an experimental Tekmira Pharmaceuticals drug called TKM-Ebola, as well as two blood transfusions from another American aid worker who recovered from Ebola at an Atlanta hospital. The transfusions are believed to help a patient fight off the virus because the survivor's blood carries antibodies for the disease.
Sacra also received supportive care, including IV fluids and aggressive electrolyte management.
The hospital did collect samples of Sacra's blood, Dr. Ali Khan said Friday, but he would not say whether enough had been collected to use for blood transfusions for Mukpo.
Mukpo was diagnosed Thursday with Ebola and was being cared for at a treatment center in the Liberian capital, Monrovia.
He is a freelance cameraman who was working for NBC when he was diagnosed. He has also worked for Vice News and other media outlets.