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NBC News Freelancer Ashoka Mukpo Wants Ebola Focus on Africa, Mom Says

The parents of an NBC News freelancer who contracted Ebola in Liberia are grateful he's getting better, but noted that many in Africa lack basic care.

Although the world has watched the progress of an NBC News freelancer who was diagnosed with the deadly Ebola virus and is recovering at a Nebraska hospital, Ashoka Mukpo’s parents said their son would likely rather the attention be paid to the West African countries that have been ravaged by the disease.

“He went there with the idea of shedding light on the pain and suffering that this epidemic has caused to the Liberian people and now the light is being shone on him for what’s going on, and I think he’s definitely uncomfortable with that,” Dr. Mitchell Levy, Mukpo's father, said Tuesday. “I think he’s already thinking about rededicating his efforts to what comes next.”

Mukpo's family said that the 33-year-old is greatly improved as he recovers at the Nebraska Medical Center, and on Monday he was well enough to go on Twitter to say he’s “on the road to good health” and to thank all the “good vibes” sent his way. Mukpo was diagnosed with the deadly disease while working as a camera operator for NBC News in Liberia on Oct. 2 and was quickly flown back to the United States for treatment.

Levy said he broke down in tears when speaking to Dr. Kent Brantly, the American doctor who survived Ebola and has donated his blood to Mukpo in the hope that the transfusions will aid in treatment. “I literally didn’t know what to say and I just honestly started crying,” Levy said.

“We’re incredibly grateful to him. And I’m sure Ashoka will be prepared when he’s called on,” Ashoka’s mother, Diana Mukpo, said. “I know my son, and apart from rededicating his efforts to the situation in Liberia, I’m sure when he gets called on to give blood, if we know that’s helpful, I know that he’ll have no hesitation doing that.”

The Ebola epidemic has killed more than 4,000 people in the West African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guniea over the last seven months. On Twitter, Mukpo said Monday with first-hand experience of the disease, “I’m even more pained at how little care sick west Africans are receiving.”



— Kate Snow and Phil Helsel