SCOTTISH nurse who almost sacrificed everything to Ebola represents all that’s good about the human spirit
OUR exclusive today about the release from hospital of Scottish nurse Pauline Cafferkey following her full recovery from Ebola is one of those stories that can buffet the reader with a range of emotions – awe, fear, empathy and admiration – and which ultimately celebrates what is best in the human spirit.
No-one sent her to Sierra Leone. She volunteered, just as she had volunteered for aid work elsewhere in the developing world in the past. She was driven by a simple but immensely powerful motivation: to use the medical training and experience she had gained in the NHS in Scotland to help others in the most appalling of situations. She wanted to save lives, and save lives she did.
But she had more than medical skills to offer. She also wanted to demonstrate care, respect and human solidarity with people facing the darkest of prospects. This too, she did, with a big heart and a ready laugh.
As a nurse who had watched Ebola patients die, Pauline Cafferkey was under no illusions when she herself was diagnosed with this terrible disease on her return to the UK. She knew the odds. She faced the prospect of her own death, and did so with immense dignity and bravery.
Doctors believe there are many valuable lessons that can be learned from the treatment of Ebola sufferers. Much intense scrutiny will focus on the experimental anti-viral drug she was given. But her doctor, Dr Michael Jacobs, says her survival may be a simple matter of luck.
When, just a few weeks ago, her doctors issued a statement that her condition had worsened to “critical”, and that the following 36 hours would be crucial, many observers feared the worst. They had that sinking feeling that this brave Scot, who had risked all, was set to lose all.
How wonderful to be proved wrong. How wonderful, instead, to have her up and walking, and smiling.
How wonderful to have her joking with our reporter Kevan Christie, who had written the story of her time in Sierra Leone, publishing it in this newspaper on the weekend before her admission to hospital last month.
We hope you return to the fullest of health soon, Pauline. You are, quite simply, an inspiration.
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