He was hailed as a national hero in his home country of Sierra Leone for his work treating patients of the deadly Ebola virus.
However, now, the New York Post reports, virologist Sheik Umar Khan has become a victim of the very disease he was trying to battle, the latest casualty in the epidemic that has rocked the African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The 39-year-old, who was working as the head doctor in his country, is still alive and being taken care of, but the source from the Doctors Without Borders medical ward where he is being treated did not reveal much about his current condition, the Post notes.
Sierra Leone’s health minister, Miatta Kargbo, voiced her distress over the news, calling Khan a “national hero” and stating that she will try to “do anything and everything in my power to ensure he survives,” according to the news site.
Ebola has already killed more than 600 people across the affected regions, the Post notes, according to World Health Organization data. There is no cure for the virus, which results in the deaths of approximately nine out of 10 victims.
In an interview with Reuters in June, the doctor candidly expressed his concern about being so exposed to the virus, the news wire notes. “I am afraid for my life, I must say, because I cherish my life,” Khan said at that time. “Health workers are prone to the disease because we are the first port of call for somebody who is sickened by disease. Even with the full protective clothing you put on, you are at risk.”
Three nurses who were working in the same center as Khan died from Ebola a mere three days before news broke of the doctor’s condition, according to Reuters.