First Ebola patient diagnosed in U.S. dies

by Staff |

DALLAS (Christian Examiner) -- Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient diagnosed in the U.S. for Ebola, passed this morning after extraordinary measures to treat him at Texas health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

Wendell Watson, director of public relations for Texas Health Resources released a statement that read in part " at 7:51 a.m. Duncan succumbed to an insidious disease, Ebola."

The news follows a number of developments about his condition and treatment since Saturday.

Duncan began receiving the investigational medication brincidofovir on Oct. 4, and his condition was reported as changing from serious to critical.

The next day in a broadcast news conference, the director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Thomas Frieden, reported that Duncan had taken a turn for the worse and indicated he was unaware Duncan was receiving the experimental drug.

He also mapped out several considerations about taking such measures.

"Some patients received an experimental treatment known as z-mapp," Frieden described as "three specific antibodies."

"But there were a very small number of doses in the world, and I understand it's all gone," he added. "It takes a long time to make more of that medicine, so it's not going to be available any time soon."

He also described a second experimental medicine, without naming it, although it is thought to be the drug Duncan had been given, brincidofovir.

"Both of these medicines, we don't know if they work or not, but they are two experimental medicines that may be promising," Frieden said, adding, "and the second could be somewhat dangerous to use, it could make the patient sicker in the interim and the family would have that choice, if they wanted to, they would have access to it."

Duncan's death has a number of tragic dimensions. He came to the U.S. to marry his fiancee, Louise Troh, and he has family in the U.S. that he had not seen in more than a decade and a half.

Troh has not spoken publicly yet about Duncan's death. 

But just yesterday, according to USA Today, Duncan's 19-year-old son, Karsiah, who had not seen the his father since he left Liberia when he was 3 years old, went to the hospital to see his dad, but was unable to.

"I just came by here because I feel like God was calling me to come see my dad," Karsiah Duncan said at Wilshire Baptist Church, according to USA Today.

The USA Today reported a "control order" had been issued by Texas Health officials Oct. 1 placing the Dallas family of the Liberian national for any contact with outsiders for 21 days.

According to an investigation by Dallas County epidemiologists, Jessica Smith and Wendy Chung, Duncan flew from Liberia on September 20 to visit family in the United States. They reported he was symptom free until four days later (and not contagious until then, Sept. 24). At the THPH emergency room he received a prescription for antibiotics and left without doctors realizing he was infected with the Ebola virus. Two days later, after his symptoms developed further, he returned to Presbyterian Hospital at which time he was admitted, and two days after that, Sept. 28, was placed in isolation and tested for Ebola.

Meanwhile, the Presbyterian Hospital team that cared for Duncan is mourning him and trying to console his family.

"Our professionals, the doctors and nurses in the unit, as well as the entire Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas community, are also grieving his passing," Watson shared in his statement. "We have offered the family our support and condolences at this difficult time."