Surviving Ebola


Published 08/04 2014 01:34PM

Updated 08/04 2014 01:41PM

(KARE) A Bloomington, Minnesota man is perhaps the first ever non-African to survive Ebola.

Dr. Tom Cairns actually had Ebola before it even had a name.

As a new doctor in Africa, Cairns knew he'd be dealing with a number of exotic ailments from anthrax, to snakebites and much more. He didn't know he'd play a role in discovering a new one.

"We had no idea what he had," Cairns recalled. "It didn't fit any of the classic textbook pictures of any of the diseases."

Cairns was in Zaire in 1972. He was a missionary doctor performing an autopsy on a patient who died before they could diagnose him.

"In so doing, I nicked my finger with a scalpel, and it was two weeks later I came down acutely ill with a serious illness," he recalls.

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