NBC freelance cameraman declared Ebola free, will leave hospital Wednesday

From the CDC: the Ebola Virus. (AP Photo/CDC, File)
From the CDC: the Ebola Virus. (AP Photo/CDC, File) AP

A freelance cameraman who contracted Ebola in Liberia will be released from the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Biocontainment Unit Wednesday morning after fully recovering from the deadly virus, hospital officials confirmed Tuesday night.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that a hospital blood test showed Ashoka Mukpo, 33, has no trace of Ebola in his bloodstream. After more than two weeks in the isolation unit, he will be free to return to his Rhode Island home.

“Recovering from Ebola is a truly humbling feeling,” Mukpo said in a statement. “Too many are not as fortunate and lucky as I’ve been. I’m very happy to be alive.”

Mukpo is the second person to recover from Ebola at the hospital, which is one of only four facilities in the country with a unit specially designed to safely treat the most dangerous viruses.

Ebola patient Dr. Richard Sacra left the hospital’s biocontainment unit virus-free on Sept. 25.

Mukpo, who was working for NBC News when he contracted the virus, said he was grateful for the life-saving treatment he received.

“I want to say a big thanks to the Nebraska Medical Center’s medical staff,” Mukpo said. “Amazing people. I’m profoundly lucky to have been treated by such professionals.”

Mukpo isn’t sure how he contracted the disease. “I was around a lot of sick people the week before I got sick,” he said. “I thought I was keeping a good distance and wish I knew exactly what went wrong.”

His ordeal hasn’t changed his feelings about taking the assignment in the disease-ravaged nation of Liberia.

“I don’t regret going to Liberia to cover the crisis. That country was a second home to me and I had to help raise the alarm,” Mukpo said.

Dr. Phil Smith, medical director of the hospital’s biocontainment unit, said his staff was confident Mukpo would recover after he arrived at the hospital on Oct. 6.

“We’ve learned first-hand that caring for a patient with the Ebola virus presents challenges you don’t face in the regular hospital environment,” Smith said in a statement. “But our years of training on protocol in the unit and gaining familiarity with all the personal protective equipment was certainly an advantage for us.”

Meanwhile, in Spain, doctors reported that a nursing assistant who had contracted the disease also had been cured. Four tests had shown the virus was no longer in the bloodstream of María Teresa Romero Ramos, 44. It was unclear when she would be released from the hospital, however.