OMAHA, Neb. (CBS/AP) — The Nebraska doctors treating an aid worker from Massachusetts who contracted the deadly Ebola virus in Africa last month declared Thursday he is free of the virus.
Dr. Rick Sacra landed at Worcester Airport Thursday evening after being released in the morning from the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
He had been in the hospital’s isolation ward since he arrived from Liberia on Sept. 5.
“The CDC has declared me safe and fee of virus. Thank God. I love you all,” Sacra said at a press conference Thursday morning when he was released.
Before the press conference began, Sacra posed for a photo with the doctors and nurses who treated him.
University of Nebraska Medical Center Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold opened the press conference declaring, “Well, ladies and gentleman. Nebraska 1, Ebola O.”
The 51-year-old from Holden, Mass., contracted Ebola while working at a hospital in Liberia with the North Carolina-based missionary group SIM.
“I feel great, except that I am extremely weak,” Sacra said. He added: “I never felt like I was not going to make it. The care was so excellent, so speedy and so prompt.”
Sacra has a family practice in Worcester and also teaches at UMass Medical School.
Debbie Sacra spent most of the news conference watching her husband of 29 years instead of the room full of reporters and hospital workers. The two shared their first hug in roughly two months Thursday morning. “It was great to get a hug,” she said.
The World Health Organization says the Ebola virus is believed to have killed more than 2,900 people in West Africa.
“Though my crisis has reached a successful end here, unfortunately the Ebola crisis continues to burn out of control in West Africa,” Sacra said, adding later that the “odds I’ll end up back (in Liberia) are pretty high.”
Two other American doctors who contracted Ebola were treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, and were released after recovering. A fourth American with Ebola is still being treated in Atlanta.
Sacra commented that prayer played an important role in his recovery.
“Literally thousands of people here and around the nation, even around the world have been praying for me. And those prayers have been answered,” he said.
Sacra thanked all of those who helped him from the medical team to the flight crew that flew him back to the United States and the nurses and respiratory therapists who cared for him in Omaha.
“You all have made me feel so welcome here that I am now an official lifetime Huskers fan. Go Big Red!” he exclaimed, referring to the University of Nebraska football team.
Rick Sacra said he was looking forward to taking his dog for a long walk, but Debbie said more rest would be in order.
Sacra’s brother, Doug, said he expects a “low-key” welcome home for his brother.
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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