Skip to main content

Ebola doctor in Sierra Leone dies

By Jacque Wilson, CNN
August 1, 2014 -- Updated 0021 GMT (0821 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "What a hero. What a loss," writes one admirer on Twitter
  • Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan was infected with Ebola last week
  • He played a key role in fighting the outbreak in Sierra Leone
  • Khan fell ill while overseeing treatment and isolation centers in the country's capital

(CNN) -- A doctor who was on the front lines fighting the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone has died from complications of the disease, Doctors Without Borders said Tuesday.

Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan fell ill early last week while overseeing Ebola treatment at Kenema Government Hospital, about 185 miles east of Sierra Leone's capital city, Freetown.

He was treated by the French aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres -- also known as Doctors Without Borders -- in Kailahun, Sierra Leone, up until his death, spokesman Tim Shenk said.

U.S. President Barack Obama hugs Ebola survivor Nina Pham in the Oval Office of the White House on Friday, October 24. Pham, one of two Texas nurses who were diagnosed with the virus, was declared Ebola-free after being treated at a hospital in Bethesda. U.S. President Barack Obama hugs Ebola survivor Nina Pham in the Oval Office of the White House on Friday, October 24. Pham, one of two Texas nurses who were diagnosed with the virus, was declared Ebola-free after being treated at a hospital in Bethesda.
The Ebola epidemic
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: The Ebola epidemic Photos: The Ebola epidemic
The facts about Ebola
Fighting Ebola on the front lines
Expert: Ebola could arrive in the U.S.
American doctor battling Ebola

"RIP Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan," wrote one of the many people who remembered Khan fondly on Twitter. "What a hero. What a loss."

A University of Sierra Leone graduate, Khan worked for that African country's Ministry of Health and Sanitation, including as head of the Lassa fever program at Kenema Government Hospital, according to the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium.

Lassa fever is a virus common in west Africa, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes.

While in that latter post, Khan contracted with the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone, consulted with the World Health Organization/Tulane University on its Mano River Union Lassa fever network and was physician-in-charge of his hospital's HIV/AIDS program.

"His valiant work will not be forgotten," Dr. Penninah Iutung Amor, AIDS Healthcare Foundation's Africa bureau chief, said in a statement. "In a country that has fewer than 200 medical doctors in its entire public health sector, the loss of even one doctor is a loss too great."

Khan continued his training in Ghana from 2010 to 2013, before returning to head the Kenema Government Hospital's Lassa fever program and becoming a lecturer at the University of Sierra Leone. The Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium described him as "one of the world's leading experts in the clinical care of viral hemorrhagic fevers" -- among them, Ebola.

Map: The Ebola outbreak  Map: The Ebola outbreak
Map: The Ebola outbreakMap: The Ebola outbreak

This disease typically kills 90% of those infected, but the death rate in this outbreak has dropped to roughly 60% because of early treatment. The outbreak is happening primarily in three West African countries: Guinea, where it began, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

As of July 23, the World Health Organization had confirmed more than 800 Ebola cases in the region, but it suspects there have been many unreported infections and there may be as many as 1,200 cases.

Sierra Leone has been hardest hit, with approximately 525 cases.

"Dr. Khan was an extremely determined and courageous doctor who cared deeply for his patients," Doctors Without Borders said in a statement.

"His work and dedication have been greatly appreciated by the medical community in Sierra Leone for many years. He will be remembered and missed by many, especially by the doctors and nurses that worked with him. MSF's sincere thoughts and condolences are with Dr. Khan's family, friends and colleagues."

READ: Ebola fears hit close to home

READ: Liberia closes its borders to stop Ebola

CNN's Greg Botelho contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1405 GMT (2205 HKT)
What happens when you get Ebola? CNN's Miguel Marquez explains.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 2354 GMT (0754 HKT)
Ebola is a scary infectious disease but the first thing you should know is that it's not very contagious. Here is how it spreads.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1646 GMT (0046 HKT)
These questions and answers will give you the latest information on the deadly virus and what's being done to stop its spread.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0259 GMT (1059 HKT)
Texas Presbyterian Hospital "fell short" several times in treating Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, starting by not asking the right questions.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1532 GMT (2332 HKT)
Up to three Ebola-infected travelers might board an international flight each month in West Africa, according to a new study, and potentially spread the deadly virus.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 1332 GMT (2132 HKT)
ebola protective outfit
Under fire in the wake of Ebola cases involving two nurses, the CDC issued updated Ebola guidelines focusing on better protecting health care workers.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0145 GMT (0945 HKT)
There's no cure for Ebola. So why have some patients walked away healthy while others in the West died?
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1420 GMT (2220 HKT)
As newly picked Ebola czar Ron Klain gets started, some are wondering if America could also use a new surgeon general.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1025 GMT (1825 HKT)
A doctor at a government-run Ebola treatment center in Monrovia is too busy to mince words.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1133 GMT (1933 HKT)
Two children orphaned by Ebola play in the empty corner of a Liberian orphanage. Their parents died last month, and none of the extended family is willing to claim them.
October 19, 2014 -- Updated 0010 GMT (0810 HKT)
Some Republican lawmakers and a handful of Democrats are calling for a travel ban on people from the West African countries most affected by the disease.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1616 GMT (0016 HKT)
Gigi the robot looks like a skinny, harmless cousin of R2-D2, but the machine could become an important weapon in the fight against Ebola.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1655 GMT (0055 HKT)
Public health experts are asking whether the CDC is partly to blame for problems with Ebola in the U.S. Here are 5 things they say the CDC is getting wrong.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1959 GMT (0359 HKT)
The lack of solid protocol on what to do with Ebola victims' pets and what little is known about the risk has caused one dog to be euthanized and another quarantined.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 0558 GMT (1358 HKT)
Rosie Tomkins takes a look at the protective suits that are worn by some Ebola medical workers in Africa.
October 12, 2014 -- Updated 2057 GMT (0457 HKT)
They dedicate their lives to saving others, but as Ebola spreads, health care workers must also focus on themselves.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 1252 GMT (2052 HKT)
What's the protocol for health care workers if they suspect a patient has the virus
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 1242 GMT (2042 HKT)
From full-body suits to improvised face coverings, here's a look at ways health workers protect themselves in some of the hardest hit areas.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1843 GMT (0243 HKT)
Click through our gallery as we track the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
A look at CNN's complete coverage on the Ebola crisis.
ADVERTISEMENT