Ian Crozier was a volunteer with the World Health Organization (WHO) at an Ebola treatment center in Kenema, Sierra Leone, West Africa. He contracted the disease during his stint and was hospitalized in the United States at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. He was the third American to be airlifted out West Africa and into Atlanta.
Crozier was fighting for his life within days of experiencing his first symptom: a headache. The New York Times reports that he quickly “became delirious, his heartbeat grew ragged, his blood teemed with the virus, and his lungs, liver and kidneys began to fail.”
“Ian was by far the sickest patient with Ebola virus that we’ve cared for at Emory,” said Dr. Jay B. Varkey, an infectious-disease specialist.
Crozier was hospitalized at Emory from September 9 through October 19 when he was discharged 30 pounds lighter and declared Ebola-free. But then, less than two months later, he started experiencing sharp pain in his left eye. With growing pressure on his eye, his vision began to fade.
This led him back to Emory where they found that his eye was “teeming” with Ebola. Doctors knew that the virus can persist in semen but they thought that other bodily fluids were clear once the patient was found to be free of the virus. Crozier’s tears and the surface of his eye were found to be clear of the virus, so casual contact was not a risk.
The virus effected the shape of his eye and turned the iris from blue to green. The New York Times reports that finding Ebola in Crozier’s eye threw them for a loop.
Dr. Yeh had worn a protective gown, gloves and a mask but no goggles when he drew the fluid. Doctors wear more protective gear when treating patients known to have Ebola. He could not rule out the possibility that he had been infected, so he slept in the guest room at home and avoided touching his infant son for three weeks, the incubation period of the disease.
Crozier eventually recovered, and doctors think that it may have been his own immune system. They feel that the treatments that they gave him “preserved his sight long enough for his immune system to kick in and clear out the virus.”
Learn more about the ebola crisis from CNN.
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