FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ebola Crisis Derails Family’s Attempts to Get Medical Treatment For Comatose Son
UPDATE July 30, 2014 11:30am
Monrovia, Liberia - Nathaniel Dennis passed away on the morning of July 30 at Aspen Medical in Sinkor, Liberia. Despite his family’s efforts to have his comatose body transported by medivac outside of the country to a medical facility with adequate equipment and know how to treat him; he was unable to receive the treatment that was necessary for his survival.
Nathaniel had been in a coma for one week. Due to the ebola outbreak that has plagued the West African region, Nathaniel was quarantined for three days at JFK Medical Center for fear that he might have been infected with the deadly ebola virus. Even his mother, who never left the hospital, was unable to see him while he was being quarantined. Nathaniel tested negative for the virus and was removed from the ebola unit, but by that time his health had begun to diminish quickly.
Only a few days after Nathaniel fell ill, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf closed the majority of the country’s borders in an attempt to stop the spread of Ebola, which has killed more than 100 people in the West African nation. The Dennis family hired a medical evacuation provider on July 27 to transport Nathaniel to Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Ghana, but were told shortly thereafter that they would not be able to fly him out of the country. because the government would not grant them clearance to land.
Doctors were working with the US government and embassies as well as the Ghanaian government to obtain access to a qualified neurologist, but were unable to identify one in time to save Nathaniel’s life. As his kidneys began to fail, it became evident that he was in need a dialysis. A ventilator to assist with breathing also became a necessity. Equipment for dialysis and respiration were inaccessible at the facility, so Nathaniel continued to lie comatose and untreated until his untimely passing.
“This is a circumstance of timing, logistics, and unpreparedness by local governments,” said Natasha Dennis, Nathaniel’s older sister, who lives in Culver City, Calif. “It could have been prevented. We don’t know what happened to him; besides lack of immediate treatment.”
Nathaniel, a former patient of Ben Carson, was born three month premature, requiring a shunt in his brain. “He’s our miracle baby,” said Natasha Dennis. Nathaniel was an aspiring musician who was working as a DJ at Radio Nubian 97.6, a local radio station in Liberia, prior to his illness. He graduated from Howard High School in Maryland and studied at Howard Community College. Friends and family described him as endlessly positive and energetic.
Family and friends have joined together to raise funds for Nathaniel’s medical evacuation and treatment, using a social media campaign “#BringBackNat” to raise awareness about the situation. Despite his passing, their fundraising effort will still be held on behalf of Nathaniel in Washington, D.C., on July 30 at the Lima Lounge, located at 1401 K Street NW, starting at 5 p.m. to raise funds for his burial.
Donations can also be made to the family’s GoFundMe campaign, which can be found here: http://www.gofundme.com/c6jr3w.
The question that still remains is, “What will happen to others who require medical evacuation from the region in the midst of the ebola crisis?”