Robert Sondah, our National Director of Liberia, let us know right away when his sister-in-law Barbara became ill with Ebola. Through prayer and by the grace of God, Barbara has made a full recovery and was gracious enough to share her story with us below. Please continue to pray for Barbara as she works through the emotional scars related to Ebola.
How I contracted the Ebola virus
I got employed with the ELWA hospital in March 2014. I took a test, sat an interview, passed both and started work on March 1, 2014. I worked in the emergency room—the initial entry to the hospital while we actively worked. I was working at night on a 12 hours shift, from 7pm to 7am. In this same March, the media reported that Ebola was in Liberia and noticed in some inhabitants of a village in Lofa County.
We all became concerned, and then our hospital became the focus health center in May when other clinics and hospitals started refusing patients because the virus had started killing people in Monrovia. The administration passed a mandate that no patient should be rejected, but set up a triage area outside the emergency room to begin assessment. This went on until a night in June when a man was turned over to me as a patient who came with history of known hypertension and diabetes. He was treated by the morning shift and was under observation until the next morning. While opening the charts to send to the pharmacy for medications, I noticed him out of bed and was told that his wife took him to the bathroom. After 5 minutes, we heard a loud cry and ran to help support him by lifting him up at the foot of his bed.
I wore a plastic gown and a plastic apron as protective gear and later realized I had a scratch on my right hand. We discussed him, but administration said no test was done to determine whether he was an Ebola patient or not. Three weeks later I became ill, had a high fever that just couldn’t break with antipyretic, experienced severe joints pain and weakness. I volunteered to do the Ebola test because of the suspicions I had from attending to patients in the ER. All patients were considered suspected Ebola patients. At this time, my specimen was taken on the 30th of July and sent for testing. I was later taken to the hospital ER to await my result. This was the most tragic moment of my life. Almost all my coworkers neglected me because of the fear of the virus while I was lying in the ER very ill and helpless. The test result was positive and I was taken to the Ebola unit the next day.
In the unit
I went in with my mind set to face death. It is a known fact that this virus has a slim survival rate. At this point, fear of death had taken over me completely and I was further traumatized. I was greatly stressed. When I got in the unit I saw many patients, and in less than 30 minutes two people died right before me. I saw people die in sequence, like every other hour and every day. Then I knew that I had entered a death zone.
But, God kept me holding on despite all that I saw happening and my own experience. After a day in the unit, I began to stool and vomit involuntarily and became so severely dehydrated and weak that I asked for pampers. I was treated with IV fluids and became stable, but I knew that it was God who made me stable. I cried on God to save my life for His own glory and that I could give a testimony of His glory. There were some who received the same treatment and became stable, yet, they later declined and died. I remained stable and was discharged sixteen days later.
I believe it was all because of your prayers unto the Lord along with those believers in Liberia. Even though I am healed from the virus and I praise God for healing me, what I now have in my life as a struggle is the associated trauma and stress based on my experience in the unit. I am still hearing voices of people crying for help in my ears and my imagination of the number of people I saw die right before me for sixteen days of my stay in the unit.
Please allow me to say thank you for your prayers, love, support and encouragement during the period of my illness.
With all my heart I say thank you!!
Barbara K. Bono
Please join us in the fight against Ebola. Go to www.visiontrust.org/ebola to learn how you can get involved. Thank you for your continued prayers.