A critically ill surgeon diagnosed with Ebola in Sierra Leone — and who was called a "hero" by his son — arrived at an Omaha airfield Saturday afternoon and he will be taken to Nebraska Medical Center for treatment. A jet carrying Dr. Martin Salia arrived at Eppley Airfield at 2:44 p.m. local time (3:44 p.m. ET).
Salia was taken off the black and gray plane on a stretcher, and was then loaded onto a gurney encased in a plastic bubble and placed on an ambulance by workers who wore yellow protective suits. A hospital spokesman, Taylor Wilson, said Salia is "extremely ill," possibly more sick than any patient yet transported from West Africa to the U.S. for treatment.
Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.
Salia will be the 10th Ebola patient to be treated on American soil and the third treated at the Nebraska Medical Center. Ebola patients Ashoka Mukpo and Dr. Rick Sacra were also treated at the Nebraska Medical Center and recovered.
"Our staff has had a break since treating our last patient, so I know we’re ready to go," said Dr. Phil Smith, medical director of the biocontainment unit at Nebraska Medical Center. Salia, a native of Sierra Leone and a legal U.S. resident, was living in that country and working at a hospital when he was diagnosed Monday. The Ebola outbreak, the worst in recorded history, has killed more than 5,000 people in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
A statement released by the hospital noted that information relayed by the team caring for him in Sierra Leone suggested Salia is "possibly sicker than the first patients successfully treated in the United States." Salia's wife and two children live in the D.C. suburb of New Carrollton, Maryland, and on Friday were making arrangements to go to Nebraska to support him. On Friday, Salia's son told NBC News that his dad knew the risks of working in West Africa but was committed to doing his part.
- Maggie Fox and Jason Cumming