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Ebola free, Rick Sacra continues call for prayers, support for his ‘adopted country’

Third U.S. physician to contract the illness in Liberia returns home after successful treatment

By Bryan Goodchild and Ellie Castano

UMass Medical School Communications

September 26, 2014

A healthy but tired Rick Sacra, MD, read a statement and took questions at a press conference at UMass Medical School today, confirming that he likely contracted Ebola while caring for very ill pregnant women at ELWA Hospital in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. Many of the women had been unable to find care for days after going into labor and only received treatment when ELWA Hospital reopened after Dr. Sacra’s return on Aug. 3.

Sacra returned to Liberia after two of his ELWA colleagues, Kent Brantly, MD, and Nancy Writebol, were forced to return to the U.S. for treatment upon being infected with Ebola. Upon learning of the deteriorating conditions that left a city of 1 million people without a hospital, Sacra made the difficult decision to return.

“I received the love of God in my own life and I wished to love my neighbor as myself,” said Sacra, assistant professor of family medicine & community health at UMMS and a member of the medical staff at Family Health Center of Worcester.

He returned to his home in Holden yesterday after three weeks of intensive treatment in the biocontainment health care facility at Nebraska Medical Center. He is the third U.S. health care worker to contract Ebola while working in Liberia and the third to be evacuated to one of a handful of CDC-approved facilities.

He was released from the Nebraska Medical Center after being declared Ebola free. He noted that daily CDC tests of his blood since Sept. 19 had been free of Ebola.

He thanked the medical staff at Nebraska for their care, saying, “They were amazing. I could only see their eyes [because of their protective gear], but they cared for me and interacted with me—there were 35 to 40 staff on the team and I knew everyone’s name when I left yesterday.”

Asked if he planned to return to Liberia, he said, “We’ve lived in Liberia for 15 years. It is our adopted second home and we love the people of Liberia. I have no specific plans to go back but it’s likely I’ll end up there. That’s where my heart is.”

Related links on UMassMedNow:
Debbie Sacra requests prayers for husband and practical help for Ebola-stricken Liberia
UMMS colleagues describe dedication of Richard Sacra
UMass Medical School partners to send Ebola relief to Liberia