Martin Salia, a Christian doctor who contracted the Ebola virus while treating patients in Sierra Leone, died Monday morning while receiving treatment in Omaha.
Dr. Phil Smith, medical director of the Biocontainment Unit at Nebraska Medical Center, released a statement breaking the news Monday morning.
"It is with an extremely heavy heart that we share this news," stated Smith. "Dr. Salia was extremely critical when he arrived here, and unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we weren't able to save him."
"We used every possible treatment available to give Dr. Salia every possible opportunity for survival. ... As we have learned, early treatment with these patients is essential. In Dr. Salia's case, his disease was already extremely advanced by the time he came here for treatment."
The Washington Post reports that Salia tested positive for the deadly virus last Monday after seeing his first symptoms on Nov. 6. On Saturday, he was transported from Sierra Leone to the University of Nebraska Medical Center on Saturday, and was the third Ebola patient to be treated at the Omaha hospital this year. He passed away after going into respiratory and kidney failure.
Salia, a 44-year-old Sierra Leone citizen who lived in Maryland with his wife and two children, was promoted to chief medical officer of Kissy United Methodist Hospital in Sierra Leone shortly before he began exhibiting signs of Ebola.
According to videos acquired from the United Methodist Church, Salia took a pay cut to stay at Kissy. In another, Salia describes how his strong sense of duty toward the people of Freetown and his faith informed his decision to become a surgeon.
"I strongly believe that God brought me here to fix whatever comes to my doorway," Salia said.
Another video shows Salia and his colleagues praying before surgery.
"He could have gone into private service and made a lucrative living," Bruce Steffes, executive director of the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons, through which Salia received his training, told The Washington Post. "But the fact that he stayed committed to missionary hospitals tells you everything you need to know about who he is and his faith and what's important to him."
Salia is the sixth doctor in Sierra Leone to test positive for Ebola and the third patient to seek treatment at Nebraska Medicine. Two former Ebola patients, Dr. Rick Sacra and freelance journalist Ashoka Mukpo, were both successfully treated at the facility.
The current Ebola crisis in Western Africa is the worst in history, killing at least 5,177 people in the past year, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization. According to the Huffington Post, of those, 324 of the dead have been local health care workers.