Fourth Estate Staff
Monrovia, Monrovia, Liberia (4E) – A woman who was one of the past recipients of Time’s “Person of the Year” award died of complications during childbirth because she was a survivor of Ebola and fought the epidemic as well and hospital staff did not want to help her.
The woman, identified as Salome Karwah, was named as one of Time’s person of the year in 2014. She did not immediately die after giving birth as four days have lapsed before she passed away in Liberia.
The hospital staff were said to be reluctant to treat her because of the stigma surrounding Ebola. Karwah lost her parents, her brother, her aunts, uncles, cousins, and a niece during the Ebola outbreak. She contracted the disease but was able to survive.
Karwah had a caesarian section when she delivered her fourth son, Solomon, last Feb. 17. Her sister said after she was discharged from the hospital, she had convulsions. They rushed her back to the hospital but her foaming mouth and seizures made the staff reluctant to touch her. The sister said, “They said she was an Ebola survivor. They didn’t want contact with her fluids. They all gave her distance. No one would give her an injection.”
A former co-worker of Karwah in Liberia, Ella Watson-Stryker, said she has no words for the death of her friend. Watson-Stryker pointed out Karwah was able to survive Ebola but died in the larger epidemic, which is health system failure.
Karwah’s father ran a clinic before it was closed down when he died. She then reopened the clinic to provide mental support for those who have contracted Ebola and survived. In an article written by her in 2015, Karwah spoke against the fear of stigma of Ebola. She also said she treated he patients as if they were her children and talk to them about her own experiences in order to inspire them about being able to survive the deadly disease.
Médecins San Frontières, which Karwah worked for in the battle against Ebola, released a statement regarding her death. Vickie Hawkins, the executive director, said Karwah was a brave figurehead in the fight to end stigma for Ebola survivors. She said they are saddened to learn about her death and that the mother-of-four made a huge contribution at the height of the outbreak in Monrovia.
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