Is race a factor in treatment of black American Ebola victims?

Is race a factor in treatment of  black American Ebola victims.
Nathanial Dennis (left), Patrick Saywer (lower right)

The mainstream media is all over the transport of two Americans who contracted Ebola while working with victims of the disease in Africa. One of the Americans arrived for treatment at Atlanta’s Emory Hospital this past Saturday. The second American is expected to be transported to Atlanta also within the next few days. A special medical evacuation flight was arranged for the transport and the treatment is being handled in conjunction with the CDC. The reason for the transport out of the region was because the medical support necessary to treat these patients was not available. The transport of these patients played out in the highest levels of US public health system.

However, the same level of support was not given to Americans Patrick Sawyer and Nathaniel Dennis, 24, both black and both dead from Ebola. Sawyer was a father from Minneapolis and was in Liberia caring for his sick sister. When he continued his travels on business to Lagos, Nigeria, he fell violently ill. He died a few days later from the disease and created a public health crisis in Nigeria. The second victim Nathaniel Dennis was a promising young black college student from Maryland who was visiting his mother in Monrovia, Liberia. Dennis was found unconscious at his mother’s home and transported to JFK Medical Center in Monrovia. He was at the hospital in a comatose state while his family attempted to seek better treatment. The doctors at the hospital determined that Dennis did not have the Ebola virus; however, when the family tried to get a medical evacuation to Ghana he was denied, because of the fear of the Ebola virus in Liberia by the government of Ghana.


The family realized that the best treatment option for Nathaniel would be in the United States.  Natasha Dennis and her brother Norwood Dennis, both of whom live in the United States, contacted the American Embassy as well as members of Congress and the US State Department to get help for their brother Nathaniel. The family even started a “GoFundMe” page to raise money to bring Nathanial home to America. Unfortunately, he died on July 30, 2014 at Aspen Medical in Sinkor, Liberia. According to the family’s webpage, Nathanial died of kidney failure. The hospital did not have a respirator or dialysis machine to keep him alive. The day after Nathanial died, the family found out that the State Department was coordinating the return of two Ebola-stricken medical workers to U.S. soil from JFK Medical Center. Now the family wants to know why their loved one was not given the same level of care, especially since they were also at JFK Medical Center in Monrovia.

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