Ross Donaldson is one of just a few who have ventured into dark territory of a country ravaged by war to study one of the world’s most deadly diseases. As an untried medical student studying the intersection of global health and communicable disease, Donaldson soon found himself in dangerous Sierra Leone, on the border of war-struck Liberia, where he struggled to control the spread of Lassa Fever. The words, “you know Lassa can kill you, don’t you?” haunted him each day. With the country in complete upheaval and working conditions suffering, he is forced to make life-and-death decisions alone as a never-ending onslaught of contagious patients flood the hospital. Soon however, he is not only fighting for others but himself when he becomes afflicted with a life threatening disease. The Lassa Ward is more than just an adventure story about the making of a physician; it is a portrait of the Sierra Leone people and the human struggle of those risking their daily comforts and lives to aid them.
Donaldson is a medical cowboy, chasing viruses in Africa, but also a UCLA medical prof and ER doc. This book is a wild and extraordinary memoir of his 2003 summer in Sierra Leone as a naïve medical student studying Lassa fever (a close cousin of the Ebola virus). Donaldson gives passionate and powerful reportage on a struggling clinic treating villagers and refugees from neighboring war-torn Liberia suffering from the devastating and often fatal illness. What inspired the adventure was the work of Dr. Aniru Conteh (who died in 2004), the hero at the heart of the story, whose Lassa ward served thousands. despite the lack of equipment, medicine and staff. For a week, Donaldson, untried and unsure, was left to treat the desperately ill patients alone-a test that turned a frightened student into a caring, if not altogether confident, young doctor. Despite a slow start, this astounding story of the seemingly insurmountable barriers to public health in a Third World country revs up into an irresistible tale of discovery, courage and kindness. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.