UK

Ebola Nurse Pauline Cafferkey Could Receive Blood From Survivor Will Pooley

31/12/2014 11:45 GMT | Updated 31/12/2014 11:59 GMT

A nurse being treated for Ebola in London could be given blood donations from fellow survivors including volunteer Will Pooley in a bid to overcome the deadly virus, the Government's chief medical officer said.

Pauline Cafferkey, a public health nurse at Blantyre Health Centre in South Lanarkshire, is receiving specialist treatment via a quarantine tent at the Royal Free Hospital in north London.

Chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said the experimental drug ZMapp, which was used to treat Mr Pooley, the nurse who was the first UK citizen to contract the disease, is "not available at the moment".

pauline cafferkey

Pauline Cafferkey

Among options of alternative treatment she said: "We do have available a small amount of convalescent plasma. Plasma is the liquid of blood and convalescent is the recovery phase.

"Will Pooley gave a donation of the plasma and the theory is as we fight off infections we make anti-bodies and if you harvest the plasma you got a source of antibodies that you can put in to someone and you'd expect it to work.

"But the cornerstone of treatment remains fluid and electrolyte treatment."

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Mr Pooley, 29, contracted Ebola while volunteering in Sierra Leone in August before getting the all-clear following treatment at the Royal Free Hospital.

He delivered this year's Alternative Christmas Message on Channel 4, saying: "I realise I was incredibly lucky, lucky to be born in a wealthy country, lucky to be well educated, lucky to have access to the best possible treatment for this awful disease.

“Thousands of people here in west Africa have not had that luck. They have died often lonely, miserable deaths without access to proper medical attention.”

Mrs Cafferkey, from Glasgow, was part of a 30-strong team of medical volunteers deployed to Africa by the UK Government last month and had been working with Save the Children at the Ebola Treatment Centre in Kerry Town, Sierra Leone.

She was initially placed in isolation at a Glasgow hospital after feeling feverish, before being transferred south on an RAF C-130 Hercules plane.

Ebola patient transferred

The healthcare worker had flown from Sierra Leone via Morocco to Heathrow Airport where she was considered a high risk because of the nature of her work and showed no symptoms during screening and a temperature check.

While waiting for a connecting flight to Glasgow she raised fears about her temperature and was tested a further six times in the space of 30 minutes.

But after being given the all clear she flew on to Scotland and took a taxi to her home where she later developed a fever and raised the alarm.

Dame Sally Davies said questions have been raised about the airport screening procedure but insisted the screening was designed to raise public awareness about the virus and was not expected to detect every case of Ebola.

She said: "She was cleared to travel because she didn't have Ebola symptoms including a raised temperature.

"It does raise a question whether we should be more precautionary. The risk of raised temperature when she came back appears to have been very low.

"That's why we look at what we do all the time to see should we have been more precautionary, is it in the public's interest? Is it in the patient's interest?

"I doubt it would have made much difference."