If you haven’t seen it already, a surprisingly feelgood clip from the epicenter of America’s Ebola jitters. I don’t know what condition I expected Pham to be in before I watched; imagining the gruesome late-stage symptoms, with hemorrhaging from body cavities, I thought at a minimum she’d be too weak to sit up, let alone speak. In fact, there’s some honest-to-goodness smiling here. There are various descriptions of her current status floating around, from good and improving to fair and stable, but however you slice it, she appears in much better shape than I bet most of the public thought. That’s wonderful news after a long, anxious week. But even that comes with a caveat: The reason she’s being moved to Maryland is because the Dallas hospital has only three beds in their isolation unit for potential future Ebola patients. Pham’s moving across the country to make room, just in case more people get sick — a prospect that White House spokesman Josh Earnest yesterday called “likely.”
What’s the secret to Pham’s (fingers crossed) recovery? No way to tell for sure, of course, but she did receive a blood transfusion from Dr. Kent Brantly, the Samaritan’s Purse volunteer who got Ebola in Africa and then recovered at Emory Hospital. That’s the third time at least that he’s donated blood to a fellow Ebola patient, the theory being, of course, that blood that’s already rich in Ebola antibodies will bolster the immune system of someone who’s just begun fighting the disease. Dr. Rick Sacra, Brantly’s first recipient, recovered fully and was released from a hospital on October 6th. Ashoka Mukpo, Brantly’s second recipient, is reportedly making a “remarkable” recovery and telling people he feels he’s out of the woods. Hmmmm. Is survivors’ blood the potential magic bullet against Ebola? Read this NYT piece from a few days ago before you say no.
A little more good news for you as Ebola panic inches ever higher: Senegal, which had a single confirmed case of the disease in August, is now Ebola-free. Nigeria, which had 19 confirmed cases, could be declared Ebola-free next week. If they can tamp this down, our own pitiful government can do the same. I think.