Recollections from from the son (and colleagues) of Dr Stella Ameyo Adadevoh who managed to contain the spread of Ebola in Nigeria after Liberian national Patrick Sawyer brought the virus into Nigeria. Sawyer may have spread the Ebola virus to Dr Adadevoh and other medical staff after he resisted Dr Adadevoh’s instruction for him to be kept in hospital under observation. He apparently pulled out intravenous tubes and splashed his blood on medical staff at the hospital.
“She was fine all along and then suddenly it became apparent. We were seeing little signs and so of course there was panic and confusion,” says the 26-year-old.
These were the early days of the Ebola outbreak and Nigeria was not ready. Dr Adadevoh had already gone to inspect Lagos’s rudimentary Ebola treatment centre, and had described it as “uninhabitable”, Mr Cardoso says.
“So, when she had to go in she was, of course, very worried,” recalls Mr Cardoso who followed behind the ambulance in his car.
Dr Adadevoh had earlier already won a different battle – to isolate Mr Sawyer. He had not taken kindly to being told he could not leave.
“Immediately, he was very aggressive. He was more intent on leaving the hospital than anything else,” says Dr Benjamin Ohiaeri, the director of First Consultant Hospital.
“He was screaming. He pulled his intravenous [tubes] and spilled the blood everywhere.”
It has been suggested that Mr Sawyer, who had already lost a sister to Ebola, was not interested in medical assistance as he had set his mind on visiting one of Nigeria’s popular Pentecostal churches in search of a cure from one of the so-called miracle pastors.
During those early days caring for Mr Sawyer whilst awaiting the result of the blood test, Dr Adadevo came under intense pressure to let him leave – a move that could have had catastrophic consequences.
“The Liberian ambassador started calling Dr Adadevo, putting pressure on her and the institution. He felt we were kidnapping the gentleman and said it was a denial of his fundamental rights and we could face further actions,” says Dr Ohiaeri, adding that the hospital trusted Dr Adadevo’s judgment.
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“The only way we could be sure and live up to our responsibility to our people, the state and nation – this is all about patriotism at the end of the day – was to keep him here.”
Mr Sawyer died in the hospital from Ebola. Dr Adadevoh and eleven of her colleagues caught the virus.