Could more have been done to save Thomas Eric Duncan?
A recent AP report explores whether the first diagnosed case of Ebola in the U.S. was treated fairly. So far, nine people have been treated for Ebola in the U.S. Poor and uninsured, Duncan has been the only person to die from the virus.
According to a spokesman at Texas Health Presbyterian, the Dallas hospital where Duncan died on Oct. 8, officials considered “many treatment options,” including a transfusion and experimental drugs. However, there is allegedly little mention of experimental treatment in Duncan’s meticulous medical records, which his family shared with the Associated Press.
"We asked. We begged. We pleaded. I even offered my own blood, even though it wouldn't do anything for him," said Josephus Weeks, a nephew who shared a close relationship with Duncan. "We requested everything we could think of to save Eric. They said no.”
Unlike survivor Nina Pham, the previously infected Dallas nurse who received a blood transfusion from a fellow survivor, Duncan could not receive a transfusion because no survivors with a matching blood type were found, hospital officials said.
As for having him transported to a hospital specially equipped to fight Ebola — a move that Duncan’s family had advocated — it is not clear who decided to have the patient remain at the Dallas hospital.
Duncan received an experimental antiviral drug called brincidofovir, which saved American journalist Ashoka Mukpo. But a seasoned Ebola expert questioned why several days elapsed between Duncan’s confirmed test results and his first treatment, as well as the type of experimental drug prescribed.
"The guys who do what I do, working in this field, find it puzzling,” Dr. Thomas Geisbert told AP. "It kind of came out of left field. I think the jury is still out on why this would have any activity against Ebola.”
The factor of race was also pointed out by Duncan’s nephew. He reportedly told AP he found it “conspicuous” that the only U.S. Ebola patient to die was Black.
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(Photo: Wilmot Chayee, File/AP Photo)