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First Ebola survivors discharged from our Sierra Leone centre

The first survivors have been cleared of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) and allowed to leave the Australian Government’s Ebola Treatment Centre (ETC) at Hastings Airfield in Sierra Leone. The survivors include an 11 year old girl, a man in his 20s and a 67 year old woman.

Ms Aminata Bangura, 11 years old, was the first patient to be successfully treated by the Aspen Medical team. She has lost several family members to EVD.  Aminata spent a total of eight days in the centre. Once diagnosed with EVD she received immediate life-saving treatment which involved antibiotics and anti-malarial drugs. A key aspect of her recovery was emotional support. Once she tested negative for the virus she abandoned all her possessions in the ward, moved through a lightly chlorinated shower (known locally as a ‘freedom shower’) and was provided with new clothes and a pack of essentials.

The Australian team have set up a ‘wall of hope’ where survivors can place their handprints prior to leaving the ETC. Aminata is pictured above placing her handprint on the wall along with Aspen Medical's Nurse Manager at the ETC, Ben Minnis.

Glenn Keys AO, Executive Chairman of Aspen Medical, commented: “We were delighted to hear about Aminata and the other survivors. The Australian volunteers have made big sacrifices being away from loved ones at this time of the year but they know their work is vitally important to the international effort to contain and beat this disease. We are extremely proud of them.

 “Our team has implemented a structured, incremental approach to bringing the ETC to its full 100-bed capacity. This incremental approach is regarded as best practice. Today, the ETC has 26 beds. The usual fatality rate for those over 45 years of age is 95%, that we have been able to successfully treat a 67 year old woman is a very positive sign, operationally and clinically.

The news was warmly welcomed by Australia's Foreign Minister, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, in a statement released on Tuesday 6th January. The Minister also thanked the Aspen Medical team in Sierra Leone and welcomed home the first Ebola Response volunteers.