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British Ebola victim thanks Hampstead’s Royal Free Hospital for ‘world class care’

British Ebola sufferer William Pooley was discharged from the Royal Free today. Picture: Andrew Matthews British Ebola sufferer William Pooley was discharged from the Royal Free today. Picture: Andrew Matthews

Wednesday, September 3, 2014
3:37 PM

William Pooley, the first Briton known to have contracted the Ebola virus in the current epidemic across West Africa, was discharged from hospital in Hampstead today.

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Mr Pooley, 29, spoke of the “world class care” he received at the Royal Free Hospital in Pond Street after being evacuated from Free Town, Sierra Leone, by RAF aircraft on August 24.

A volunteer nurse, Mr Pooley showed visible relief on speaking of how “wonderfully lucky” he felt to have made a full recovery from the disease.

He said: “A huge thank you to the Royal Free Hospital for the world class care, and all the compassion and care I have received here.”

Fortunately, Mr Pooley’s symptoms were in the primary stages, where he experienced a high temperature and some gastrointestinal discomfort.

Receiving treatment at this early stage was crucial to his full recovery.

To date, 90 per cent of Ebola victims with advanced stage symptoms have died from the disease, which spread from Guinea to other parts of West Africa in early March this year.

Mr Pooley was treated with the experimental drug ZMapp, which uses natural proteins to isolate and neutralise the invading Ebola pathogens.

He was a keen test subject for the drug, which is still in its initial trial stages.

However, medical professionals are cautious to attribute Mr Pooley’s recovery solely to the effects of the drug.

Dr Michael Jacobs, the infectious diseases consultant who led Mr Pooley’s care at the Royal Free, said: “At this experimental stage, it is impossible to tell whether Will’s recovery is solely down to the treatment of ZMapp he received.”

Dr Jacobs went on to praise the “extraordinary and intense effort” made by the staff involved in Mr Pooley’s care. He also acknowledged the significant international co-operation, and “the lessons that had been learned” to improve future knowledge and treatment of the disease.

Mr Pooley, who was helping to care for people with Ebola in Sierra Leone when he became ill, recalled having “mixed memories” of his work.

He witnessed a number of patients and colleagues dying from the disease, who did not have access to the treatment he received.

“I felt privileged to be in Sierra Leone, helping to care for very sick people,” he said.

“That’s what being a nurse is all about. I feel more committed than ever to my career in nursing.”

But he has no immediate plans to return to Africa.

Mr Pooley joked: “My passport was incinerated when I came to the UK, so at least my mum will be pleased that I can’t go anywhere!”

For now, Mr Pooley is looking forward to relaxing in his home village of Eyke in Suffolk, with family and friends.

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