Maryland Man Dies in Liberia During Ebola Outbreak


Liberia West Africa Ebola

People protest outside a hospital June 17 as Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf visits the area after Ebola deaths in Monrovia, Liberia. A senior official for Doctors Without Borders says the Ebola outbreak ravaging West Africa is “totally out of control” and that the medical group is stretched to the limit in its capacity to respond. Bart Janssens, the director of operations for the group in Brussels, said that international organizations and the governments involved need to send in more health experts and to increase the public education messages about how to stop the spread of the disease.

Nathaniel Dennis from Howard County, Md. died July 30 after being held in Liberia, under suspicion that he contracted the Ebola virus. A {TIME} news article said 672 people died from the virus in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and other parts of West Africa since July 23. The outbreak has been the worst since the virus was discovered in 1976.

According to news reports, an autopsy is being conducted to verify the official cause of Dennis’ death. He died at Aspen Medical in Sinkor, Liberia, according to a news release on the family’s “Bring Nathaniel Home” webpage. The page was created July 27 to help finance Dennis’ medical evacuation and treatment.  Family and friends have raised $10,280 so far.

“This is a circumstance of timing, logistics, and unpreparedness by local governments,” said Dennis’ older sister Natasha Dennis, in a release. “It could have been prevented. We don’t know what happened to him besides lack of immediate treatment.”

Dennis, 24, went to Liberia to visit family earlier in July, when he suffered from multiple seizures, news reports said. Dennis had been in a comatose state for a week after Liberian hospitals were unable to provide him with a ventilator and equipment for dialysis, the release said.

Dennis was not permitted to leave the country for medical treatment, because President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf closed a majority of the borders in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus, according to the release.

According to the release, Dennis was a former patient of Dr. Ben Carson. He graduated from Howard High School in Maryland and studied at Howard Community College.

The family reported Dennis’ death on the website http://www.gofundme.com/c6jr3w. Despite his passing, the release indicated that the family still held a planned fundraising event in Northwest D.C; but instead as originally planned for purposes of bringing him home, the fundraiser was to raise funds for his burial.

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