“I will continue to love and serve…”
Few people, if any, would bravely continue to work in situations that nearly ended their lives. This is more so if the cause of that near death is the dreaded Ebola Hemorrhagic fever!
But, Gloria Tumwijuke, a Midwife who contracted Ebola in the course of her duty and miraculously survived, has decided to continue with her work albeit with more caution. “I will continue to love and serve”, she vowed as she was introduced as one of the survivors of Ebola that recently broke out in Kibaale district, South Western Uganda.
In a somber mood, with tear flowing freely, Gloria narrated how she unknowingly contracted Ebola while helping a mother in labour. “I came in contact with her blood which is common in my work, but after one week, I fell sick with symptoms of Ebola”, she narrated.
Her condition deteriorated and she was eventually transferred to Mulago National Referral Hospital in Kampala for advanced care. Luckily, the country’s disease surveillance system had picked up leads of hemorrhagic fever outbreak in Kibaale. Gloria was thus handled with extreme care in transportation and on arrival at Mulago.
The Uganda Virus Research Institute in Entebbe was quick in testing Gloria’s blood sample. Within hours UVRI positively confirmed the dreaded Ebola virus as the cause of her illness. This is one more example of a dedicated Midwife that indeed got the infection in the line of duty.
Doctors concur that there is no cure or vaccines for Ebola at the moment. Patients are only given supportive care and treatment according to most evident signs and symptoms. That is exactly what Gloria received at Mulago as she embarked on slow, painful recovery process.
Miraculously, Gloria recovered but not her colleague Clare Muhumuza a Clinical Officer at Kagaadi hospital who was also infected while on duty and unfortunately succumbed to the disease. By 4th October 2012 when the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health declared the outbreak over, the disease had claimed the lives of 17 people most of them from one family.
“I thank God to be alive, I am just lucky, but I am suffering from the after effects of the disease,” Gloria reported adding that “I forget a lot and I have lost all my hair as you can see. But doctors tell me I am okay and I will overcome these problems with time”.