“An Australian died today in Sierra Leone. The first Australian casualty of the Ebola crisis. The nation is in shock and mourning alongside the family. Sarah Newton, a doctor, was with the first batch of volunteers sent after the Australian Government finally relented to international pressure. Despite Australia having the agreement with the UK government to evacuate any Australians, Sarah was too sick to be airlifted. Instead she was treated in one of the purpose built clinics for volunteers.
Interviews with fellow medical staff said that Sarah had been confident that despite continued staff shortages and battling fatigue she had taken every safety precaution. When she showed the first signs of a fever she assumed it was the result of something else, possibly malaria. Consequently she had not reported to sick until she had started vomiting. While they gave her the best possible care and worked around the clock to save her, she passed away in the early hours of the morning.
Back in Australia, Sarah’s family refused to talk on camera, preferring mourn their daughter in private. They describe Sarah as a hero, who has always put other people’s care before her own. They are distraught at her loss and now due to restrictions regarding Ebola related deaths they will not be able to bring her body home for a family burial. Sarah’s body will be cremated in a service with her colleagues in Sierra Leone.
A memorial will be held next Saturday at St Thomas’s, Church in Nth Sydney.”
As I watched the news cast I felt relief, guilt and empathy for Sarah’s family. Grateful it wasn’t my friend. As much as I tried, I could not contain my tears.
I was late for work this morning.