2014 Time Magazine ‘Person of the Year’ Ebola Worker Dies After Childbirth Complications

Salome Karwah lived as a hero but died recently after giving birth to her fourth child. Her husband believes the Ebola stigma is to blame.

In 2014 Karwah’s face graced the cover of Time magazine. She was among the Ebola Fighters recognized by Time as “Person of the Year” that year because she “risked and persisted, sacrificed and saved.”

During that epidemic there were more than 10,000 Ebola cases across Liberia alone, according to the Associated Press. Of those, 4,800 people died (11,300 people died in all of West Africa), including 184 health workers.

Karwah was a health worker in Liberia who dedicated her efforts to helping Ebola patients, but she survived, having become immune to the deadly virus. Ebola killed both her parents and seven other relatives, but in true hero fashion, that didn’t stop her from returning to her clinic to help so many others.

In a sad twist of fate, at just 31 years old, Karwah passed away on February 21, 2017 following complications after giving birth to a son named Solomon–her fourth child.

Solomon was delivered by cesarian section. That much is undisputed. So is the fact that Karwah experienced complications following childbirth. Where you have to draw your own opinion has to do with what happened next.

Some believe she did not receive the medical attention she needed because she was an Ebola survivor and health workers were afraid to help her. According to Adolphus Mawolo, a Liberian journalist and friend of Salome Karwah, she was discharged from the hospital three days after her son’s birth, but hours after arriving home, she lapsed into convulsions.

As Mawolo tells it, “She was rushed back to the hospital by her husband and her sister, but no one would touch her.” Here’s an excerpt from his GoFundMe page set up to support Karwah’s children:

“They said she was an Ebola survivor,” says Josephine Manley, her sister. “They didn’t want contact with her fluids. They were afraid of her. No one would give her an injection.” Karwah died the next day.

Tolbert Nyenswah, who led Liberia’s Ebola fight and currently heads the country’s National Public Health Institute, could not confirm reports that when she suffered seizures, health workers were frightened to treat Karwah because of her Ebola survivor status.

He said the death was being fully investigated to know “what really went wrong,” according to the AP.

There’s reason to wonder why Karwah didn’t receive the care she needed when complications arose. Just read this statement by Tolbert:

“Normally if a cesarian section is conducted, the person is supposed to stay in the hospital for seven days and monitored to see whether there are complications. But to my understanding, that protocol was breached; she spent less than that in the hospital and was discharged, and when she was facing complications her husband took her back to the hospital to seek further care.”

As I write this, the hospital has yet to comment, but Karwah’s husband James Harris told the AP that it was the hospital that decided to discharge her prematurely even though “her blood pressure was high each time it was taken” after the C-section and he wanted her to stay a bit longer.

Understandably, Harris blames the hospital for his wife’s death. He claims they had her waiting in a vehicle for three hours before she was attended to.

As the AP described, “It was a tragic end for a woman who had fought tirelessly against the stigma of Ebola.”

Whether or not the stigma is to blame for her death is debatable. What’s inarguable is the fact that this is a heartbreaking outcome for someone so deserving of life.

TAKE ACTION

  • Learn: Did you hear about the recent study which revealed that the Ebola virus was largely spread by just three percent of the infected population? What do you and don’t you know about the Ebola virus? Find out by visiting this informative page of Questions and Answers about the 2014 Ebola Outbreak from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Support: Family friends set up a GoFundMe page to help with future medical, education, nutrition, shelter and clothing costs for Salome Karwah’s four children.

Photo Credit: Time Magazine

61 comments

Marie W
Marie W5 months ago

Thanks for posting.

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Leanne K
Leanne K8 months ago

Sad! Reminiscent of the early 80s treatment of aids patients/ victims

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Vivianne Mosca-Clark

That is so sad...she helped so many people. Fear sure hurts.

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Margie F
Margie FOURIE8 months ago

The poor children.

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Francis H
Francis Hale8 months ago

Thank you

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Chen Boon Fook
Chen Boon Fook8 months ago

Thank you for sharing

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Fred Campbell
Fred Campbell8 months ago

Thanks for the information.

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Jenny G
Jenny G8 months ago

Salome was a real life hero who helped others but no-one helped her when she needed it. How tragic and sad!

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william Miller
william Miller8 months ago

thanks

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william Miller
william Miller8 months ago

thanks

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