27 March 2015
- From the section Health
A UK military medic who has been discharged from hospital after being declared free of Ebola said it was thanks to medics that she is alive.
Cpl Anna Cross was the first person in the world to be given the experimental Ebola drug MIL 77, her doctors said.
Cpl Cross, aged 25, from Cambridge, caught the virus while working as a volunteer nurse in Sierra Leone.
During her illness she lost 22lb (10kg) and spent 14 days being treated at London’s Royal Free Hospital.
Doctors at the hospital said they were “absolutely thrilled” she had made a full recovery.
They described the drug she was given as a close relative of the medicine ZMapp – which British nurse William Pooley received when he was treated for Ebola.
Experts at the Royal Free said MIL 77 was made in China and that a limited supply was available, should anyone need it.
It is too soon to know what role the drug played in Cpl Cross’s recovery, they added.
The army reservist thanked the team at the hospital, saying they were, in her opinion, “the best in the world”.
She said: “They are an incredible bunch of clinicians – incredibly skilled, incredibly dedicated and incredibly professional.
“Thanks to them I’m alive.”
The military medic had been working at the British Kerry Town treatment centre in Sierra Leone for three weeks before she became ill.
But Cpl Cross, who is an intensive care nurse in the UK, said an investigation had not been able to determine how she caught the virus.
When first told she had Ebola she said “it was really hard for a few hours”.
She added: “Then something within me just kicked in, as it does in difficult situations.”
But when it came to telling her family about the virus she was “completely chicken”.
The military sent people to support her relatives during this time.
Doctors said she is now completely free of Ebola after being cared for in an isolation unit.
But she added: “It’s going to take time until I can just be normal and get about my normal day. Then I have to be military fit, that might take months.”
Prof Jonathan Ball, a virus expert at the University of Nottingham, said: “This is fantastic news that another individual admitted to the Royal Free has recovered from Ebola.
“She was given an experimental drug, but it is impossible to say whether or not this directly contributed to her clearing the virus.
“In order to know whether a drug does work we need experimental trials and thankfully trials of various drugs are underway in West Africa, where Ebola virus is still doggedly clinging on.”
Ebola has claimed more than 10,000 lives across the worst-affected countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia in the past 12 months.
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