Fighting Ebola: Marc’s Sierra Leone Diary
Alder Hey Lab Technician Marc Seddon recently travelled to Africa to spend five weeks working in a clinic laboratory testing samples from patients, to help in the fight against Ebola.
Marc will be blogging to share his experience during his visit and here are the first extracts from his diary:
So after leaving my house on Tuesday afternoon, I finally arrived in Sierra Leone on Thursday morning! It took one train, a few tube changes, a bus, a sleepless night at a hotel airport, another bus, two aeroplanes and then a car journey to finally get us to Makeni!
Our first day was pretty chilled out after all the travelling, everybody was really tired, so we had a few general meetings with the people in charge, got some food and had a good sleep. Myself and six others are staying in a guest house until sometime next week when there is more room at the normal hotel and we can rejoin the rest of the team. The people here are really friendly and the food is cooked fresh, real African style food, it’s lovely! Unfortunately there is no wifi at this guest house, which is the only negative, but in a country that’s suffering so much, it’s not a big deal really. It’s kind of nice to get away from the social networks and take in real life again.
I am starting in the lab tomorrow, I’ve been given the late shift which is 3-10pm. There are three shifts, 6am-2pm, 10.30am-5.30pm, and 3-10pm, so hopefully I will have much more to say in the coming few days on the lab side of things, and will take a few pictures of this amazing country.
I’ve already seen a place called “Welcome to Everton” – I think it’s somebody’s house or a shop of some sort, and I also seen a young man wearing a Liverpool top with Gerrard across the back…just shows they’ll wear anything here…joking!
So that’s been the first day, I’ll attach some photos and I’ll catch up soon with the coming days events!
I’m struggling to get any wifi at all until I move to the other hotel sometime next week so I apologise for the delay.
But anyway, I had my first shift last night, we had five of us from Team 4 which is my team for the next five weeks, and also had three people from Team 3 who are doing the handover. In their words “we’ve never had a late like this, ever, it’s crazy”. It really was crazy!! The first two samples I tested were both positive for Ebola, a mother and father, which really struck home just what we are doing out here. The importance of correct PPE became to dawn on everybody, and the realism of Ebola was frightening!
Whilst testing these samples we had a call on the radio in the lab to say 14 patients were arriving via ambulance from a holding centre, all showing signs of Ebola. Following that call we reviewed another, from a somewhat nervous African voice, to say that a female in one of these ambulances was heavily pregnant and her waters had broke on route. Bear in mind that these ambulances are packed with patients, about five or so in each. A few minutes later we got another call, the female had given birth in the back of the ambulance! Although this was good to hear, I couldn’t help feeling that if any of those people in that ambulance did have Ebola and were displaying wet symptoms (bleeding, vomiting, diarrhoea, sweating) then were was nothing down for this poor baby and mother.
Luckily, later that night, we got news that mother and baby were both okay! We worked late that night, meant to finish at 10 but didn’t leave the lab until 11.30, it was a crazy start to what I’m sure will be a hectic few weeks as the spike in samples which was predicted to happen, seems to have happened on our first working day, great!!