Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey praises Royal Free after being discharged

Left to right: Breda Athan, senior matron and high level isolation unit lead; Dr Michael Jacobs, con

Left to right: Breda Athan, senior matron and high level isolation unit lead; Dr Michael Jacobs, consultant in infectious diseases; and Pauline Cafferkey. - Credit: Archant

Pauline Cafferkey, the nurse who contracted Ebola while working in Sierra Leone, has been released from isolation after being treated for meningitis caused by the deadly virus.

The 39-year-old Scot, who contracted Ebola last December, was re-admitted to the isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead on October 9, months after she was thought to have fought off the infection.

At one point she was described as “critically ill” but the Royal Free has announced that she was discharged from its care yesterday and transferred to Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital to continue her recovery.

Speaking before she returned to Scotland, Ms Cafferkey said: “I am forever thankful for the amazing care I have received at the Royal Free Hospital.

“For a second time, staff across many departments of the hospital have worked incredibly hard to help me recover and I will always be grateful to them and the NHS.

“I am looking forward to returning to Scotland and to seeing my family and friends again.”

The Royal Free said today Ms Cafferkey had made a full recovery from Ebola and was no longer infectious.

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A spokeswoman for the hospital said: “We are delighted that Pauline has made a full recovery from Ebola and is now well enough to return to Scotland. We would like to wish her well for the future.”

Ms Cafferkey, from South Lanarkshire, first contracted Ebola while working as a nurse at the Save the Children treatment centre in Kerry Town, Sierra Leone.

She was diagnosed in December after returning to Glasgow from the west African country via London.

She spent almost a month in an isolation unit at the Royal Free before being discharged in late January.

Forty people were offered vaccinations after she was found to have fallen ill again with her family claiming doctors “missed a big opportunity” to spot it.

After being re-admitted to the Royal Free she was treated with the experimental drug GS5734.

At the time Dr Michael Jacobs, from the Royal Free, described the situation as “unprecedented”, while the World Health Organisation said Ms Cafferkey was the only known Ebola survivor to develop meningitis months later.

Dr Jacobs, infectious diseases consultant at the hospital, told a press conference in October: “This is the original Ebola virus she had many months ago which has been inside the brain, replicating at a very low level, and has now re-emerged to cause this clinical illness of meningitis.

“This is an unprecedented situation.”