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The Lassa Ward: One Man's Fight Against…

The Lassa Ward: One Man's Fight Against One of the World's…

by Ross Donaldson

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As a medical student interested in infectious disease, Donaldson traveled to Sierra Leone to study the treatment of Lassa Fever. Infectious, deadly, in the dame family as Ebola, Lassa Fever causes massive bleeding from all orifices, and kills its victims quickly. The high contagion levels have made many medical professionals unwilling to treat the disease.

Donaldson finds himself quickly thrown into the middle of Sierra Leone's foremost Lassa treatment ward. As he is still just a student Donaldson feels woefully unprepared to make life-or-death decisions. He is also shocked by the lack of resources, lacking access to most drugs and lab tests. The nursing staff is highly committed but under-trained.

Political issues exacerbate medical problems. Donaldson was in Sierra Leone during a period of high corruption in neighboring Liberia. Many Liberians fled devastating violence and were forced to relocate to Sierra Leonean refugee camps, which became breeding grounds for Lassa Fever. It is difficult for aid agencies to get supplies into Sierra Leone, and Donaldson becomes increasingly disillusioned with American refusal to offer assistance in ridding Liberia of its corrupt dictator.

This was an intriguing look at life and medicine in Sierra Leone. Donaldson's mentor, Dr. Conteh, is an inspriting figure. He is one of the few willing to treat Lassa patients, and he has become the medical and humanitarian expert on the treatment of the disease. His tireless efforts to treat Lassa patients are quite amazing, and most of them are carried out single-handedly. ( )
  lahochstetler | Dec 29, 2011 |
Ross Donaldson is a medical student, writing a paper about Lassa fever, who decides to travel to Sierra Leone and research the deadly disease first hand. Working alongside Dr. Conteh, a physician who has made Lassa fever his specialty, Donaldson sees the devastation caused not only by Lassa, but hunger, war, and other diseases in the African nation. The familiar (if you read any amount of medical memoirs) story of a student being thrust into healing head first, feeling unprepared, is accompanied by culture clashes and the difference between Western, first world medicine and the medicine practiced and available in Sierra Leone. While Donaldson starts off naive and a little annoying, making some observations that had me shaking my head, by the end I had grown to like him. The real stars of the novel are the physicians, nurses, and patients of the Lassa Ward. Written in an easy-going, simple style, this is an informative and heartwarming story. Recommended. Four stars. ( )
  allthesedarnbooks | Feb 12, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312377002, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:41 -0400)

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