Garstang doctor fights battle against deadly Ebola virus

Dr James, back row (second from right - wearing baseball hat) with British health workers who arrived in Makeni at the weekend.
Dr James, back row (second from right - wearing baseball hat) with British health workers who arrived in Makeni at the weekend.
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A young doctor from Garstang is among those fighting the spread of the Ebola virus which has claimed more than 9,000 victims in West Africa.

Dr James Meiring, 29, flew into Sierra Leone at the weekend with a group of British health workers.

Local hero: James Meiring will use his medical skills to help  Ebola victims

Local hero: James Meiring will use his medical skills to help Ebola victims

James will spend the next five weeks working as a volunteer team leader in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, one of the areas affected by the epidemic.

James said: “The risk of contracting Ebola is real but I’m confident everything that can be done to protect me is in place.

“There are effective and stringent protocols on how we put on and take off the personal protective equipment before we come into contact with any Ebola patients.

“We went through a rigorous training course prior to deployment, organised by the UK government. Despite this, I think I am appropriately nervous given the serious nature of the illness.”

The disease causes disruption of blood supplies to the liver, brain, lungs and kidneys and prompts bleeding from bodily orifices and renal failure.

He said: “As human beings we have a responsibility to look after and help our fellow man – whoever and wherever they are.

“Applying that is difficult, but with my training and experience this is something I can do to help people who are suffering from an awful disease.”

In Makeni, James will work with suspected and confirmed Ebola patients at a treatment centre recently built by soldiers from the Royal Engineers.

James is a former pupil of Garstang St Thomas’s CE Primary, Garstang High School and Poulton Baines School Sixth Form.

His parents Les and Joyce Meiring live at Cabus.

Scores of British health workers have spent time in West Africa in recent months, including nurses Will Pooley and Pauline Cafferkey who both hit the headlines after contracting the virus.

They survived after lengthy specialised treatment back home in the UK.

James’ mum Joyce said: “People keep asking me if I am worried for him, and I’m not actually, but I will be glad when he is back.

“With having a very positive, outgoing personality I think he will cope.”

James studied medicine at Sheffield University where he met his wife, Ruth, also a doctor. The couple have a son, Jonty, aged two.

The Sierra Leone mission is not his first visit to Africa.

In 2009 he spent several months in Zambia where he worked on health projects including malnutrition, burns treatment, general surgery and childcare.

l Follow James’s mission in Sierra Leone sheffieldtosierra.org/ or twitter.com/jamesmeiring