Volunteer nurse with Ebola virus travelled to Sierra Leone after contacting UK charity

William Pooley, who is now being treated at the Royal Free Hospital in London, got in touch with the UK Friends of the Shepherd's Hospice at the start of the year

Royal Free Hospital in London
Royal Free Hospital in London

The British nurse who contracted the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone had originally travelled to the country after contacting a UK charity that does fundraising work for a local hospice.

Ruth Cecil, a trustee of the UK Friends of the Shepherd's Hospice, told Third Sector that William Pooley contacted the charity, which raises money for a hospice in the Sierra Leone capital of Freetown, at the start of the year.

Cecil said the charity put Pooley in touch with the director of the Shepherd's Hospice. He travelled to Sierra Leone to start working at the facility in March.

A statement on the charity’s website says: "Whilst in Sierra Leone, Will courageously decided to volunteer his nursing skills at the government hospital in Kenema, in response to the Ebola outbreak.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family at this time and we wish him a speedy recovery."

Pooley has been flown home after contracting the virus and is being treated at a high-level isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London.

A statement from his family, posted on the hospital’s website, says: "We would like to express our thanks to all involved in bringing our son back to the UK. We have been astounded by the speed and way that the various international and UK government agencies have worked together to get Will home. Will is receiving excellent care at the Royal Free Hospital and we could not ask for him to be in a better place."

An article on Pooley’s experiences published in Inside Eyke, a local newsletter in Pooley’s Suffolk hometown, says that he was due to spend six months in Sierra Leone – meaning he would have come home in September.

There has been an extensive charitable response to what is being called the largest Ebola outbreak in history.

Médecins Sans Frontières said in a news release earlier this month that it had 676 staff in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, but warned that it had "reached its limit in terms of staff". The British Red Cross has sent a number of specialist workers to the country, according to its website. And the children’s charity Plan International is running information campaigns and providing supplies and training in the three countries.

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