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British Ebola victim discharged from hospital

Wednesday, September 03, 2014, 21:00 GMT+7
British Ebola victim discharged from hospital
The isolation unit where William Pooley was treated for Ebola is pictured at the Royal Free Hospital in north London on August 6, 2014

A British nurse infected with Ebola while working in Sierra Leone was discharged from a London hospital on Wednesday after recovering from the disease following treatment with the experimental drug ZMapp.

"I was very lucky," said William Pooley, who had been working as a volunteer in one of the worst hit areas and was flown out of Africa on a specially-equipped British military plane.

"I had some unpleasant symptoms but nothing compared to some of the worst of the disease, especially when people end up dying," said Pooley, who has been the only Briton reportedly infected.

The Royal Free Hospital, the only facility in Britain with a high level isolation unit that can host Ebola patients, said the treatment had been "successful".

Pooley, who spent 10 days in the hospital, was given the drug ZMapp, which was also used on two US missionaries who also recovered.

"I wish that the level of care I've received here could be provided there," the hospital quoted Pooley as saying.

The nurse admitted "I was worried I was going to die", but said he had no regrets about flying out to Sierra Leone to help deal with the outbreak, which has so far killed more than 2,000 people across west Africa.

"I have mixed memories, some great memories and some horrible memories - lots of people dying," he said.

"But also some wonderful memories of people going home, people showing massive spirit and cheer, despite the horrible conditions, the truly heroic people that I worked with, people that went on to get sick, so it is a massive mix of memories."

Like a fish tank

Pooley found out he had the disease from a World Health Organization (WHO) doctor, following a blood test.

"He was in personal protective equipment so I knew it was bad news," he said.

"It was a bit disturbing to get that diagnosis but I had been half expecting it because I had been feeling sick. I was worried about my family, I was scared."

Pooley described the isolation tent at The Royal Free Hospital as being "like a fish tank... with very little privacy", and said that being allowed out was a "special moment".

He added that his recovery will continue with the help of family and friends at his home in East Anglia, south east England, and that there were no plans to return to Africa any time soon.

"They incinerated my passport so my mum will be pleased to know I cannot go anywhere at the moment," he joked.

International medical agency Doctors Without Borders said Tuesday the world was "losing the battle" to contain Ebola as the United Nations warned of severe food shortages in the hardest-hit countries.

The organisation, also known by its French name Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), told a UN briefing in New York that world leaders were failing to address the epidemic and called for an urgent global biological disaster response to get aid and personnel to west Africa.



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