Douglas College nursing student helped to fight Ebola in West Africa
|David Denofreo Photo|
After fighting Ebola on the front lines in West Africa, Ian MacKay says he feels lucky to be home safe but he wouldn’t hesitate to return if asked.
The Douglas College Bachelor of Science in Nursing student spent three weeks last year in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, providing treatment to patients with the deadly disease.
He was there with Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian humanitarian group, working 16-hour days in a clinic based in a missionary hospital.
“Through my own eyes I saw tragedy and suffering on a scale unimaginable,” he says.
“Ebola robs its victims of absolutely everything. Many victims die a lonely painful death.”
At one point, two of Ian’s colleagues contracted the virus. He decided to delay his return home so he could stay to help with their care and evacuation, even donating blood to one of them.
“The anxiety of having both my colleagues positive with the virus, and not knowing whether or not I had been exposed to the virus, caused severe anxiety for many of us,” he says.
Ian is no stranger to international relief work, having previously volunteered in Haiti, the Philippines and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
However, he said nothing could have prepared him for what he encountered in West Africa.
“The death tolls and news headlines don’t do justice to the severity of this virus,” he says.
When he returned home to Canada he was quarantined but he had not contracted the virus.
Despite the ongoing struggle to stop Ebola, Ian is optimistic.
“I am very confident West Africa will overcome Ebola,” he says. “This crisis has woken up the global community to the risk Ebola poses on global health.”
And what if he was asked to return to West Africa to continue fighting Ebola?
“I wouldn’t hesitate,” he says.