When Ian Crozier, MD, volunteered to treat Ebola patients in West Africa last year, he couldn’t possibly have imagined that he would become a case report in the New England Journal of Medicine and a living example of the serious, long-term consequences of Ebola infection.
Crozier described to a Stanford audience last week his extraordinary journey of survival from Ebola infection after suffering a shutdown of his vital organs and several hemorrhagic strokes.
“If I you had told me on day one that I would develop multisystem organ failure and asked me to predict my chances of survival, I would have said my chances were zero,” he told a School of Medicine audience of more than 100 people. “They [the Emory caregivers] really changed the game… I really think they were walking on the moon, but in a different kind of space suit.”
Crozier, who was a World Health Organization volunteer physician in Sierra Leone, was evacuated to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, where he spent 6 weeks undergoing intensive treatment. As he began to recover from the infection, he had to relearn some basic functions, such as walking and talking.
Two months after he was discharged from the hospital, he was beset by serious eye problems and was found to be harboring billions of viral particles in his left eye. The infection also left him with some hearing loss and ringing in the ears, sleep issues and some neurologic complications, including seizures and short-term memory loss.
But none of this was apparent during his talk, in which he delivered a detailed, rapid-fire discussion of his remarkable medical journey.
“It must be odd to hear me talking about my own case... in what may seem a detached manner,” he told the audience. “This was not theoretical. I’m standing here, and I’m alive, and yet I’ve described some of the worst disease we’ve seen with Ebola.”
Colin Bucks, MD, a Stanford emergency physician who was a volunteer in Liberia during the Ebola crisis, says Crozier’s experience has given him a new perspective on how best to treat infected patients. Previously it was not standard practice to put patients on ventilators or dialysis machines, as Crozier was, as these were considered impractical and ineffective.
“It made me endorse the aggressive treatments that were previously considered futile,” Bucks told me during Crozier’s visit to Stanford. "So I consider his case pivotal in the way we view this disease."
Previously: Ebola: It’s not over, Back home from Liberia, Stanford physician continues to help in fight against Ebola, Stanford physician shares his story of treating Ebola patients in Liberia and Experience from the trenches in the
Photo, of Ian Crozier with children in Sierra Leone, courtesy of WHO