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“I was worried I was going to die” - Suffolk man treated for deadly Ebola virus arrives back home

16:14 03 September 2014

British Ebola sufferer William Pooley during a press conference at the Royal Free Hospital in north London, where thanked staff at the hospital as he prepared to be discharged. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

British Ebola sufferer William Pooley during a press conference at the Royal Free Hospital in north London, where thanked staff at the hospital as he prepared to be discharged. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

The Suffolk man treated for the deadly Ebola virus is heading home to Suffolk to recuperate with friends and family after being discharged from the Royal Free Hospital in north London.

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British Ebola sufferer William Pooley during a press conference at the Royal Free Hospital in north London, where thanked staff at the hospital as he prepared to be discharged. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA WireBritish Ebola sufferer William Pooley during a press conference at the Royal Free Hospital in north London, where thanked staff at the hospital as he prepared to be discharged. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Volunteer nurse Will Pooley, from Eyke, became the first Briton to catch the virus while working in Sierra Leone.

At a press conference this morning, he thanked staff at the Royal Free Hospital in London for the “world-class care” he received, saying he feels “wonderfully lucky” to have survived.

And he said his symptoms had not progressed to the worst stages of the disease.

He has been treated with the experimental drug ZMapp, and earlier this week his family said he seemed to be “pretty well”.

He said he had feared for his life after being diagnosed with the virus and woken by doctors in protective clothing.

“I was worried I was going to die.”

The treatment he received was a world away from that being used to treat those with Ebola in west Africa, Mr Pooley said.

He was flown back to London and treated at the Hampstead hospital with the experimental ZMapp drug, which was used successfully to treat two Americans who contracted the disease.

He said: “I was very lucky in several ways, firstly in the standard of care that I received, which is a world apart from what people are receiving in west Africa, despite various organisations’ best efforts.

“I had amazing care, which was one difference.

“The other difference is that my symptoms never progressed to the worst stage of the disease - people I have seen dying horrible deaths. I had some unpleasant symptoms but nothing compared to some of the worst of the disease, especially when people are dying.”

He did not even vomit, he said, but had suffered high temperatures and some stomach problems.

Mr Pooley highlighted the conditions other medical staff are working in out there.

He said: “I have mixed memories, some great memories and some horrible memories - lots of people dying.

“But also some wonderful memories of people going home, people showing massive spirit and cheer, despite the horrible conditions, the truly heroic people that I worked with, people that went on to get sick, so it is a massive mix of memories.”

Mr Pooley had been airlifted back to Britain by a specially equipped C17 RAF jet, and treated in a specialist isolation ward at the hospital in Hampstead.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “I’m delighted that Mr Pooley has recovered and can return home to his family and friends. Like many other health workers, he put himself in danger to help others, which deserves our admiration.

“I want to thank everyone involved in Mr Pooley’s treatment at the Royal Free, which has been world class.

“The NHS, Public Health England and colleagues elsewhere have shown great professionalism and expertise, and I’m grateful for all of their efforts.”

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