Published October 26, 2015
The American journalist being treated in Nebraska for Ebola will receive a blood transfusion from a fellow Ebola survivor.
Ashoka Mukpo, 33, who was working in Liberia as a freelance photographer for NBC News, is scheduled to receive a blood transfusion Wednesday from Dr. Kent Brantly.
Brantly, who contracted Ebola while working with Samaritan’s Purse in Liberia, had previously donated blood to Dr. Richard Sacra, a Massachusetts doctor who has since recovered from the virus.
Mukpo is being treated at the Nebraska Medical Center in a biocontainment unit, the same isolation center where Sacra was treated.
The hospital contacted Brantly on October 7, as he was driving through Kansas City, Mo. He then stopped to donate his blood, which was then flown to Omaha to be given to Mukpo.
“It’s not a likely scenario that he would again have the same blood type,” Dr. Angela Hewlett, associated medical director of the Biocontainment Unit at the Nebraska Medical Center, said in a news release.
“We are incredibly grateful that Dr. Brantly would take the time to do this, not once, but twice.”
In addition to a blood transfusion from Brantly, Sacra received the experimental drug TKM Ebola and other supportive care. It’s not known which part of the treatment — or if all three — ultimately helped Sacra recover.
Mukpo is also being treated with brincidofovir, an experimental drug made by biopharmaceutical company Chimerix.
The drug, which comes in tablet form, is currently undergoing additional tests in laboratory animals infected with Ebola. According to a statement from Chimerix, it was approved by the FDA for use in human Ebola patients on Monday.
Chimerix faced a firestorm of criticism this year when it initially declined to provide the drug on a "compassionate use" basis to 8-year-old Joshua Hardy, a Virginia boy who developed a potentially-fatal adenovirus infection after a bone marrow transplant for kidney cancer.
The company relented and enrolled the boy in a clinical trial. He went home from the hospital in July.
Meanwhile the first patient diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. died Wednesday, hospital officials sad.
Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national, was being treated at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas since Sept. 28, after initially sent home days earlier with antibiotics. Duncan arrived in Texas in late September on a commercial flight from Liberia, and had been in critical condition since Saturday.
"It is with profound sadness and heartfelt disappointment that we must inform you of the death of Thomas Eric Duncan this morning at 7:51 am," the hospital said in a statement.
"Mr. Duncan succumbed to an insidious disease, Ebola. He fought courageously in this battle. Our professionals, the doctors and nurses in the unit, as well as the entire Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas community, are also grieving his passing. We have offered the family our support and condolences at this difficult time."
Duncan had been placed on a ventilator and a kidney dialysis machine to stabilize his health, the hospital said Tuesday. His liver function declined over the weekend and he was sedated.
Texas state health officials are monitoring 10 people who had close contact with Duncan and 38 others who came into contact with that group to see if anyone had developed signs of infection. So far, no one has shown any symptoms, health officials said.
Officials have said this is a critical week to see if any of those exposed in Dallas develop signs of the virus that has killed more than 3,400 people since an outbreak in West Africa began in March, out of nearly 7,500 confirmed, probable and suspected cases.
Dallas residents have mostly taken in news of Ebola within the city limits calmly, but many have kept a close eye on whether it might spread. Cars of Dallas County Sheriff's deputies who were at the scene of the apartment where Duncan stayed have been scrubbed as a precaution, the sheriff's office said.
The hospital and health officials have said mistakes were made in handling Duncan.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.