Ebola survivor thanks Winnipeg researchers who developed the vaccine that saved her
A woman from West Africa who survived the Ebola virus has met the Winnipeg researchers who developed the drug that saved her life.
Junietta Macauley got a tour of the National Microbiology Lab Friday afternoon.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you, that’s all I could say now,” she said after the tour.
Macauley was given a special drug called Zmap created by researchers at the Winnipeg lab back in December of 2014 during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
“I had the drug administered to me on the 19th of December … 48 hours later I felt better.” Macauley said.
Macauley was working as a funeral director in Freetown, Sierra Leone when she and her whole family got sick.
“We were all in hospital but I was moved from one hospital to another which was run by Italians,” she said.
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Her husband Henry, who was a local preacher, and her eldest son Raymond, who was married and left behind three children, died from the Ebola virus before they could receive the drug.
Macauley said she still doesn’t know how her husband caught the Ebola virus.
“My husband first caught it, we don’t know where or how because he doesn’t work in the funeral business at all so he caught it from somewhere, and we didn’t realize he had caught it,” Macauley said.
It was Macauley’s first visit to Winnipeg and she said she had mixed feelings about seeing the lab where the world’s first Ebola vaccine was produced.
“I feel sad that I lost two family members, very close to me, my husband and my eldest son,” she said.
She added that she also wanted to “see where this wonder drug was developed and who were [the people] behind this wonder drug.”
Macauley said she still remembers when she first started showing symptoms of the deadly virus.
“I had wobbly legs, and that’s how it started, and I completely lost my appetite.”
According to The World Health Organization there have been 28,657 reported cases of Ebola, and 11,325 deaths.
Macauley said she feels lucky and “blessed” to be alive and she praised the Winnipeg researchers and the work being done at the National Microbiology Lab..
“It’s very important to keep the research and the funding going because it might spring up in another country, or back in West Africa, we don’t know, but it’s very important.”