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Christian charity doctor repatriated from Liberia dies in Madrid hospital
Miguel Pajares, 75, was 'too far gone' and also infected with typhus fever, say medics
A MISSIONARY doctor repatriated from Liberia to be treated in Spain for the deadly Ebola haemorrhagic virus has passed away.
Brother Miguel Pajares, 75, had been treating hundreds of patients at a hospital in the west African capital of Monrovia along with others from various religious orders worldwide, since Ebola has already claimed the lives of many doctors and numerous others have quit to avoid catching it themselves.
He was flown back to Spain five days ago, isolated on the plane in a clear plastic zip-up 'box' with oxygen tubes and intravenous fluids fed through it, and admitted to the Carlos III hospital in Madrid.
The drug ZMapp – newly developed in the USA and so far successful on the country's one patient, Dr Kent Bradly, who was brought home from Liberia – was shipped over to Spain and was expected to save Miguel's life.
Recent reports said he was likely to be completely cured within a couple of weeks, but medics treating him admitted the missionary is likely to have been too far gone.
Miguel was said to be 'delirious and very confused' before he was shipped home and his colleagues in Liberia said he was 'in a very bad way'.
Cremated without consultation
The missionary has been immediately cremated with no post-mortem in a coffin sealed with zinc, without waiting for his family to attend or even be notified, due to the urgency of the situation.
Ebola is passed by bodily fluids, including sweat, saliva and tears, whether the affected person is dead or alive, meaning the hospital was not able to wait before Miguel was cremated.
His ashes have been given to the family, since the incineration process means the virus has been completely eradicated from them and they are safe to handle.
Early symptoms of the Ebola virus include headaches, muscular weakness and pain, extreme fatigue, loss of appetite and fever followed later by external bleeding, and develop within hours or days to liver and kidney failure and internal bleeding.
It is the haemorrhaging and organ failure which causes death.
Miguel Pajares was already struggling to breathe and suffering with a fever of 39ºC when he was brought to Spain, and medics say his kidneys had stopped working – he was no longer urinating, a symptom of renal failure – and he had heart problems caused by the virus.
Separately, the missionary was found to have typhus fever, which causes high body temperatures, headaches and delirium and is transmitted by certain parasites mainly in the third world, although it has generally been wiped out in the west.
His organ functions were decreasing rapidly by around 03.00hrs or 04.00hrs on Tuesday morning and his immune system had almost totally packed up.
Doctors say the virus had spread throughout the aid worker's body and was 'eating away at him', and even though they kept treating him until the very last minute, he passed away at 09.28hrs on Tuesday morning.
Colleagues in danger
Sister Juliana Bonoha, from Guinea but with a Spanish passport, was also repatriated to Madrid and tested, but at the moment she is said to be negative – although doctors are keeping her in isolation and monitoring her until the incubation period is over.
Three other colleagues of Brother Miguel and Sister Juliana were in quarantine in Monrovia at the same time as they were – Sister Catherine, Sister Paciencia from the former Spanish colony of Equatorial Guinea, and Sister Chantal Pasqualine from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Sister Chantal passed away a day before Miguel, at the same time as their fellow missionary George Combey, from Ghana.
Although Juliana and Miguel are the only Spanish citizens, all the aid missionaries were working for the Juan Ciudad ONGD Christian charity based in Spain.
To this end, they have been pleading to be flown to Spain for treatment, although each country is only under obligation to repatriate its own citizens.
A terrified Sister Catherine says they are all 'just waiting for death to come', since every day that passes means the virus is spreading further.
Miguel Pajares caught the lethal virus from Cameroon-born Patrick Nshamdze, the Monrovia hospital director whom he was treating.
His repatriation caused controversy in the medical world, with many doctors calling it 'a political rather than healthcare decision' and questioning whether it was worth 'risking infection in Europe for the sake of one person'.
But other doctors say the danger of spread is very low since only those in direct physical contact with an affected person have any chance of catching Ebola – it is infectious, meaning contact is required, rather than contagious, or airborne.
And extremely strict procedures are in place in all hospitals in the West – anyone who goes near the patient wears overalls, gloves, masks and goggles completely covering every millimetre of the body, and are doused all over with a strong disinfectant afterwards.
Gowns and other clothing are burnt immediately after use.
Reports initially claimed that the repatriation costs – around half a million euros – would have to be paid by the Christian charity, something its representatives said it was prepared to do.
But this would deplete its vital funds needed to carry on treating the disease abroad, and Spanish president Mariano Rajoy has denied any intentions of subrogation on the government's behalf.
“Of course the government will pay. That's just pure common sense, and I don't understand why there's any controversy,” Rajoy stated during an informal meeting with King Felipe VI and his family at Marivent in Mallorca, where the Royals are on holiday.
Ebola pandemic in four countries
Experts say that if the Ebola outbreak had happened in Europe, the death rate would have been very low because of the far superior resources in the western world.
But in west Africa, the situation is out of control, having claimed 1,013 lives at the time of publication.
Survival rate is lower than 10 per cent, and the disease has spread through Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, although Spaniar
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