Ebola nurse Will Pooley gets MBE honour
12 June 2015
- From the section Health
A British nurse who contracted Ebola last year during his work in Sierra Leone, has been recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours list.
Will Pooley, 30, has been made an MBE for his services in combating the disease outbreak in west Africa.
The nurse, from Suffolk, recovered fully and returned to Sierra Leone in October and is now back in the UK.
There were at least nine MBEs for other nurses and about 7% of all the honours’ recipients were from the health sector.
Oliver Johnson, programme director for the King’s Sierra Leone Partnership for whom Mr Pooley worked, was made an OBE.
And Ciaran Devane, the former chief executive of cancer charity Macmillan Cancer Support, receives a knighthood.
‘Life on the line’
Mr Pooley, from the Suffolk village of Eyke, travelled to eastern Sierra Leone in the summer of 2014 and in August, just six weeks after his arrival, became the first Briton to be evacuated from west Africa with the virus.
Mr Pooley did not want to comment on his award, but his mother Jackie told the Press Association news agency that the family was “very proud” of him and he is hoping to continue with his nursing career.
“We are very proud because he followed what he wanted to do. He followed it through even when it was uncomfortable and dangerous and he was quite aware that he was putting his life on the line,” she said.
Mr Pooley had to be airlifted back to the UK for treatment for the virus. He was treated in a special isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London where he was given the experimental drug ZMapp. He told the BBC afterwards how scared he had been.
Following his recovery, he spoke at a summit in London to discuss the global response to the virus, choking up as he recalled the “horror and the misery” he had witnessed in Sierra Leone.
‘Extraordinary local workers’
Oliver Johnson has been leading a small team on the frontline of the Ebola response at Connaught Hospital in the Sierra Leone capital Freetown.
He said he was “humbled” by his honour.
“Everything we achieved is due to the efforts of extraordinary local health workers and international volunteers, who have bravely led the fight against Ebola and did not hesitate to put their lives at risk to save others.
“They are the real heroes of the response, and I would like to dedicate this award to them, especially those friends and colleagues who lost their lives to the disease.
“We will continue to fight the virus until we have seen the last case, and to work with our local partners to rebuild and strengthen their health system in the coming years,” he said.
More than 11,160 people are reported to have died in the worst ever Ebola outbreak, which caused deaths in six countries; Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, the US and Mali.
The outbreak in Liberia, which had the highest number of deaths out of all the countries affected, was declared over by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 9 May, 2015.
In Sierra Leone, where Mr Pooley was working, there were only 15 new cases declared in the week ending 7 June, according to the WHO.
At its peak in December 2014, Sierra Leone was reporting more than 500 new cases a week.
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