"Ebola is Not a Death Sentence"

Portrait of Zayzay Mulbah, a survivor who turned MSF staff in ELWA 3, Monrovia, Liberia.
Malin Lager/MSF
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Zayzay Mulba is an Ebola survivor who now works in the psychosocial support team at a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Ebola treatment center in Monrovia, Liberia. Here, he tells his story.

It’s been one-and-a-half months since I recovered from the Ebola virus. But how I contracted the virus is something that will leave me wondering for the rest of my life. I don’t know whether I contracted it from a relative or a close friend, or by touching something that had been contaminated by an infected person.

I was completely heartbroken when my test result at MSF’s ELWA-3 Ebola treatment center confirmed that I was positive for Ebola. I did not believe it. I cried profusely. This was a turning moment in my life. I did not believe from the onset that Ebola was real. I doubted its existence. But here I was, sitting in an isolation center, confirmed for Ebola.

Before I felt sick, my friends and I would hang out at entertainment centers around our community, drinking stout and joking that it was Ebola medicine. It was not too long after that I started feeling sick, like symptoms of malaria. Then I started throwing up and I had diarrhea.

My mother thought that I was poisoned. Even still, my family was taking all the necessary precautions, even though we were not sure I had Ebola. Whenever I vomited, my wife disinfected and cleaned it away. My wife and my daughter stopped sleeping by me in the same bedroom. To date, I am the only person who got infected in my family, because of these precautions.

My condition was getting worse by the day. On August 23, I made the decision to go to the treatment center in Elwa 3. I went to the center and they did my test and confirmed me positive for Ebola. I was treated and after nine days, I recovered and I was discharged to go home.

Ebola can be deadly when people don’t exercise care. People affected by the disease have a chance of survival when they go for care at a treatment center. I share my story to tell the world that having Ebola is not a death sentence.

I thank the staff of MSF for saving my life—they have given new meaning to my life. Now I’ve dedicated myself to the fight against the deadly epidemic. I am happy to be working at the Ebola treatment center to care for patients who are battling with the virus.

Portrait of Zayzay Mulbah, a survivor who turned MSF staff in ELWA 3, Monrovia, Liberia.
Malin Lager/MSF