‘Ebola Survivor’ Goes Blind

Fifty-six-year-old Washington Sumowah said he has lost his sight and sense of smell after being discharged from the Ebola treatment unit (ETU) within the compound of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Monrovia.

Mr. Sumowah was taken to the ETU on September 2, when he was suspected of suffering from the hemorrhagic fever and was discharged on September 6.

Explaining his ordeal to the Daily Observer Sunday, September 21, at his residence in Gbarnga, he said when he started feeling sick, he went to the Phebe Hospital for medical checkup and his specimen was taken and sent to Monrovia for testing.

“Two days later, I was asked by health authority at the Phebe Hospital that I needed to go to Monrovia at the JFK Hospital ETU for treatment and that is how I was taken to the treatment center,” Mr. Sumowah said.

He narrated that at the ETU, he was profusely sprayed with a chemical he identified as chlorine, something he alleged might have been the cause of him losing his sight and sense of smell.

“The chemical cut sore all over my body that made me to have sleepless nights for the past ten days” he declared displaying one of his photos.

Mr. Sumowah told this reporter after spending four days at the ETU that he was discharged by medical personnel when his second test conducted proved negative, which means that he is freed from the Ebola virus disease.

Medical records in the possession of the survivor, signed by Dr. J. Soka Moses, a Medical Doctor at the ETU, established that he (survivor) had suffered from multiple body pain, diarrhea, breathlessness, weakness, abdominal pain as well as muscle pain for the past two weeks before being taken to the JFK Ebola Treatment Unit. There is nowhere in the report pointing to him coming down with the virus.

However, Sumowah told this paper that he had suffered from bloody stool and urine for many years and both have been his major illnesses.

Many people in Gbarnga believe that the 56-year-old man is simply allergic to the chemical used on him during his stay at the ETU.

Meanwhile, he has passionately appealed to the Liberian Government, humanitarian organizations, the international community and people of goodwill to extend assistance to him in restoring his sight and sense of smell.

He is a father of seven, said his wife has forsaken him as a result of his present condition and only his four and ten-year-old children are currently taking care of him.

“Can you imagine before I go in the rest room, my son has to lead me even to take bath? Things that I used to do on my own, I cannot do them again; it is frustrating,” Mr. Sumowah remarked, shaking his head in frustration.

When contacted, the County Health Officer for Bong Dr. Sampson Azoakoi confirmed that the victim was transferred to Monrovia after his blood specimen was taken and tested and was diagnosed of Ebola but maintained that he regretted that the survivor came back with blindness and lack of smell.

Dr. Azoakoi told this paper that at present, the eye clinic at the Phebe Hospital is not functional due to the prevailing health crisis in the country but advised the victim to seek assistance elsewhere until the eye unit is re-opened.


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