Family of First American Victim of Ebola Crisis Questions Lack of U.S. Intervention
Just a day after Nathaniel Dennis, 24, subcummed to an unknown illness in Liberia, reports arose that the State Department is coordinating the return of two Ebola-stricken medical workers to U.S. soil. Now, Nathaniel’s family is asking why he wasn’t provided the same level of life-saving intervention.
MONROVIA, Liberia (August 1, 2014) — Nathaniel Dennis, 24, of Columbia, Md., was the first American victim of the ongoing Ebola crisis in West Africa — but the college student and aspiring musician hadn’t even contracted the virus. Now, following reports that the State Department is coordinating the return of two Ebola-stricken medical workers to U.S. soil, Nathaniel’s family is asking why he wasn’t afforded the same assistance.
Nathaniel was found unconscious on July 24 while visiting his mother, an educator in Liberia’s capital of Monrovia. As a precaution, Nathaniel was quarantined at JFK Medical Center for three critical days, but doctors determined the young man — who was in a comatose state until his death several days later — did not have the deadly Ebola virus.
But when family attempted to have Nathaniel airlifted to Ghana’s Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, the closest medical facility equipped to treat him, they were told the Ghanaian government was denying him entry to the country due to fears about the spread of Ebola.
“We called everyone we could think of,” says Natasha Dennis, Nathaniel’s sister who resides in Los Angeles. “We were told by all of them that there was nothing they could do.”
Natasha and her brother Norwood Dennis IV launched a fundraising campaign for their younger brother and contacted the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, as well as the members of Congress, several Maryland state senators, and the U.S. State Department. Natasha says the State Department told her they were in contact with the U.S. Embassy in Liberia about Nathaniel’s case, but by then it was too late.
On the morning of July 30, Nathaniel passed away in Aspen Medical in Sinkor, Liberia. A doctor at the facility told Natasha that her brother’s kidneys had failed, and the facility lacked the basic equipment — a respirator and dialysis machine — needed to keep him alive.
Only a day after Nathaniel’s death, reports arose that the State Department was coordinating the return of physician Kent Brantly and missionary Nancy Writebol, who have contracted Ebola, to the United States. Both worked in JFK Medical Center where Nathaniel was initially quarantined.
“All we want to know is, why didn’t my brother get the same chance to come home, especially since he didn’t have Ebola?” Nathaniel’s brother Norwood asks. “He was an American citizen, just like them.”
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