Boston Doctor cured of Ebola announces return to Liberia

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez, |
The crowded coastline of Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. Photo: SIM/Liberia

BOSTON (Christian Examiner) — A Massachusetts doctor who contracted Ebola in August while on a medical mission in Liberia announced his plan to return to the hot zone nation this week.

Dr. Rick Sacra and wife Debbie embrace at The Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, where for three weeks he fought and then recovered from an Ebola virus infection. | FACEBOOK SIM/Liberia

Dr. Richard Sacra, a University of Massachusetts Medical School faculty member, received treatment in Omaha, Nebraska, where he was cured of the disease and released in late September. Now tolerant of the virus, he plans to return in January for four weeks.

Sacra reportedly spent more than two decades participating in medical missions in the West African nation. His medical efforts include service near Monrovia at the Eternal Love Winning Africa Hospital a ministry of Serving In Mission (SIM), a North Carolina-based interdenominational Christian organization.

"I'm not hearing a lot of pushback from home," Sacra said. "I've been working there for years, and my risk at this point is no different than it was before because I'm immune to Ebola."

At the time he was infected, Sacra said he was caring for pregnant women delivering babies. Since the women were not believed to have Ebola, it is unclear how Sacra contracted the disease. When he returns to ELWA Hospital next year, he will return to new protocols implemented at the clinic.

"Even if we haven't suspected Ebola in that patient, we're now wearing full protective gear at our facility for deliveries," he said. "When we're doing surgeries, we're now getting bleached down at the end, which we weren't doing before."

Sacra, is one of at least 20 people to date treated for Ebola outside of West Africa. Like Sacra, most are health and aid workers.

His announcement came following a news conference held by Gov. Deval and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center announcing a $ 1 million state grant intended to help develop a faster, more accurate test for diagnosing Ebola. Currently, no vaccine exists for the virus.