Ebola testimonial: Tafarel, the surviving medical student

This story was originally published on guineeconakry.info by Hippolyte Batumbla. I thought it was worth sharing an account from a survivor of Ebola in the affected places. Translated

Ibrahima Sory Mansaré is an intern in a hospital in the city of Dubréka. He is one of the four who handled, in emergency, the first case of Ebola on August 12 2014. The patient dies and all the interns are infected.

It is 8pm on this Friday, September 12th. The street lights sparkle on the curb of the national road. The fresh breeze of the evening is felt gently. The empty dark skies cover the heads. 15 kilometers on the way is Kenendé: a popular city near downtown. This is where Ibrahima Sory Mansaré, a.k.a Tafarel, lives. The man comes out of his room limping from his left foot. Despite the dark light, we can see his beard and thick hair. He gets closer to the door: a bucket filled with a solution, in front of a person bending forward, vomiting a liquid. Just on the side of the bucket, a sticker is marked: EBOLA.

Tafarel turns on a small lamp to light the room, he smiles and sits on a sofa. He wants to talk, his eyes sparkle in the modest room, he finally starts. This 27 year old young man, clears his throat, then continues. Tafarel talks about his encounter with the young mechanic who died of the epidemic. His voice breaks, then become louder and fills the little room.

The young man was tired. That's why he couldn't walk. He vomited. With his case, we were in panic mode. We were in doubt after the diagnosis. The medical equipment could not confirm the what it was. Around the evening, the young man who was sent to the hospital by his master, died. We immediately handed him to the Red Cross. I finished my shift and went home with a troubled mind. Two days go by and my body temperature shoots to 38°!(100.4° F). I try to exercise a little for a change, but nothing works. I call those in charge of me on the telephone and explain my situation.”

During that time, at the hospital, the tests revealed that the young mechanic who died, suffered from the viral hemorrhagic fever of Ebola. The following day, a medical team arrived at Ibrahima Sory's place. His room thoroughly sprayed with chlorine and himself admitted to the Hospital of Donka. There were 9 that came from Dubréka. 15 minutes goes by. This survivor of Ebola tells of his adventure in a world of sick people.

I have never been so scared in my life. Everyday there was a new death. Only one thought consumed me. Was I going to come out of this unscathed!” affirm Sory Tafarel. During those 13 days living close to death, he remembers the expertise of the doctors always ready to support him. He is ready to testify, because other Ebola survivors say that the medical staff that were supposed to help them, flee out of fear and stupor.
Outside, we hear the sound of cars passing … but, the man continues to tell us how lucky he was “to have escaped death”.

Ibrahima Sory Mansaré “Tarafel” confirms that the epidemic is very real: “I saw 3 of my friends vomiting, having violent diarrhea and … another one die. Ebola exists without any doubt.” Big drops of sweat covers his forehead. He stop his narration. Suddenly, Tarafel remembers a question to which he still can't find an answer: and what if he had died of Ebola, what would have happened?
To date, everywhere, everyone wants to see him, everyone wants to ask him questions. Like a movie star right here in Dubréka.

It is 8pm. On the streets, pedestrians are still present, enjoying the cool gentle breeze coming from the ocean this night. Next to us, a blue car approaches. A woman comes out, and joins her children on the other side of the road. Then the driver shouts, “Down with Ebola!” Spontaneously Tarafel replies “Vive la vie!”

According to Doctors Without Borders, as of September 6th 2014, there has been 2614 cases and 1408 deaths. The numbers are still growing, and note that in a third world country like Guinea, it is impossible to get accurate numbers. Many cases go un-reported.

Like you see in the article, the survivor insist that Ebola is for real. It might seem odd to you that he makes this statement. We all know that it is for real. The problem is there is a lack of communication in those countries. The media is not as strong as here in developed countries. A lot of people are not aware or think it is just stories.

Recently there has been a movement. A committee of people traveling every part of the country to inform and educate people. This will make a huge difference. But again there is another problem. Things like hand sanitizers or synthetic gloves are hard to come by. Hospitals needs the best equipment money can buy.

Here is a good place to start if you want to help.


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