Dr. Martin Salia, the surgeon being treated for Ebola in Nebraska, has died, WOWT6News reported on Monday. The hospital confirmed the news.
Salia was 44. A resident of Maryland, he had fallen ill while treating patients in his native Sierra Leone.
He is the second person to die of Ebola in the United States. The first was Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who was being treated in Dallas, Texas.
Salia first tested positive for the virus on Nov. 10, and arrived in the U.S. for treatment at Nebraska Medicine in Omaha on Nov. 15. According to Reuters, he was suffering from kidney and respiratory failure when he arrived.
Two other Ebola patients, a doctor and a journalist, have been successfully treated at the Nebraska hospital, which specializes in treatment of the virus and has the largest biocontainment unit in the country.
Salia is the sixth doctor in Sierra Leone to be infected with Ebola. It's unclear how he contracted the virus because he was not treating Ebola patients.
Read more about Salia's life on HuffPost Healthy Living.
In a press conference on Monday, Salia's doctors praised his courage and the strength of his wife, Isatu Salia. They also thanked Nebraska Medicine’s health workers for their compassionate and thorough care, which included intensive measures like hemodialysis (to treat advanced kidney failure) and respiratory support with a ventilator.
Per public health recommendations, Salia's body will be cremated. Because the bodies of those who have died from Ebola are highly infectious, an autopsy is considered high-risk and will not be performed in this case. However, Nebraska Medicine doctors withdrew blood samples from Salia while he was being treated, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will analyze those samples to determine how the disease progressed.
Salia's doctors said during the press conference that an Ebola survivor had donated plasma to Salia, but they would not identify who the person was. They added that biopharmaceutical company Mapp Pharmaceuticals had supplied a therapeutic dose of ZMapp, an experimental but promising drug, for his treatment.
When asked if the Nebraska Medicine staff felt “defeated” after Salia’s death, Dr. Daniel Johnson, the division chief for critical care anesthesiology at Nebraska Medicine, said the staff felt satisfied that they had tried their hardest to give Salia every possible chance to survive.
“The family feels the same way, and that’s more important than how we feel,” Johnson said.
This story has been updated with information from the Nebraska Medicine press conference.