2 Oct 2014

Heroic British nurse makes emotional plea to stop Ebola

British Nurse William Pooley is close to tears as he recalls the deaths of a young brother and sister aged four and seven, and pleads for action against Ebola to save the lives of millions of people.

William Pooley was the first Briton to catch the Ebola virus during the recent outbreak in west Africa, and is now calling on governments to do more to stop the “horror” of the disease, which shows no signs of disappearing.

Speaking at a conference in London where British ministers, diplomats and charities gathered to discuss pledging money to tackle the ongoing crisis, he recalled a brother and sister who died within hours of each other in Kenema.

“They weren’t especially remarkable – I saw kids like this every day – but they stick in my mind for some reason,” said Mr Pooley.

In an emotional plea to delegates and the media, he said: “My specific fear is that the horror and the misery of these deaths really fill a well of my despair. And I just don’t know what happens if that’s repeated a million times.

“And so I say, at all costs, we can’t let that happen.”

The number of people in west Africa infected by the disease, which is killing more than half of those it infects, is doubling every few weeks: in Sierra Leone, doctors are diagnosing five new cases every hour.

Mr Pooley recalled how the four-year-old boy had died less than 24 hours after his diagnosis. He had to put him in a body bag as his sister watched.

“The little girl she deteriorated the next day. Overnight, the following night, she had IV fluids and the line came out as she bled. I came in the following morning and she was covered in blood,” he told the conference.

“She still had a very puzzled expression on her face and she wasn’t breathing.

“So I put her in a bag and left her next to her brother. She was a beautiful little girl.”