Friday 21 October 2016

Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey feared she might 'die a horrible death'

Lucy Christie

Published 18/05/2016 | 20:47

Pauline Cafferkey
Pauline Cafferkey

Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey has admitted that she feared she might "die a horrible death" after contracting the virus while volunteering in West Africa.

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The Scottish medical worker was discharged from hospital at the end of February after being treated for the third time for a complication linked to the disease.

Ms Cafferkey, 40, said she still has no idea how she caught Ebola but says she has no regrets about her decision to volunteer.

Speaking about her diagnosis, she told ITV news: "I was obviously very shocked, I just knew that I had to stay strong and I just had to try and keep it together.

"I was just thinking I could die a horrible death within the next few days".

The nurse added: "I said 'do not let anybody in here, I do not want anybody to see me', which is quite selfish really, but I just didn't want them to see me like that."

"I asked my doctor to phone my family and inform them, because I couldn't do it, it would just upset me.

"I actually refused to have my family come in, to come and visit me. I was suffering, and you wouldn't want to see your child or your sister going through that".

Ms Cafferkey was infected while working with the sick in Sierra Leone in December 2014, at the height of the Ebola crisis.

She spent almost a month in an isolation unit at London's Royal Free Hospital and was released after making a recovery, but she fell ill again in October and was this time treated for meningitis caused by Ebola.

She was flown from Glasgow to the Royal Free once more in February and treated for a complication related to her previous infection.

Describing her Ebola symptoms, the South Lanarkshire nurse said: "The first or second day my mouth was very painful. And then as time went on, I had a horrendous rash, I was in a lot of pain and then my body became swollen. I think probably my organs were starting to fail at that point."

She added: "I have been negative of Ebola for seven months now and don't believe I will have another relapse.

"Looking to the future I'm not sure what it will hold. I'm positive it will be full of good things as it can't get any worse than what I have gone through and I'm sure the memories will fade with time."

Asked what she would say to anyone else considering taking a risk to go and help the sick, she said: "Just do it. There's nothing more rewarding than giving.

"I have no regrets."

:: Pauline's Story - Living with Ebola: Tonight will be broadcast on Thursday at 7.30pm on ITV.

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