How Louise Troh Survived Ebola | KERA News

How Louise Troh Survived Ebola

Jun 8, 2015

Last year, when Thomas Eric Duncan became the first person to die from Ebola in the U.S., he left behind his fiancée, Louise Troh. On Monday's Think, Krys Boyd talked to Troh about how she leaned on her family and faith to make it through.

When Thomas Eric Duncan first developed flulike symptoms after arriving from Liberia, Louise Troh didn’t think much of it. Duncan had had Typhoid fever before - plus, other people who had visited her from Africa also felt rundown upon arrival.

“I was thinking it’s his first time coming and it’s just a climate change," she said. "So I wasn’t even thinking about Ebola."

Soon, Duncan was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

When Troh got the call from a doctor confirming the worst, she was doing laundry at her neighborhood laundromat.

“When I heard it, I was already dead. I couldn’t even think," she said. "I was not thinking and people were calling me – from everywhere they were calling me. And I wouldn’t answer the phone.”

One of the many people Troh relied on as Duncan’s conditioned worsened was her teenage son, Timothy.

“He was my encouragement – he encouraged me. He’s a brave, young, black boy," she said. "He’s like, ‘Nobody going to call me Ebola – nobody going to talk about Ebola to me because I don’t have it!’ … He never worried – if I asked him to take his temperature, he was like, ‘I’m sick of taking temperature – I’m not sick!’ And I said, ‘Well, we have to just listen to them, we have to be obedient, so we can get out of here, OK?’ And he said, ‘OK.’”

Troh says the support of the people around her and her faith got her through. She thought a lot about Moses, Job and other figures from the Bible whose faiths were tested. And she’s come to view Duncan’s death as a sacrifice that saved others.

“He came as, like how Jesus died on the cross for us, because Eric’s death brought a whole lot of attention around the world to Ebola," she said. "Everybody is trying to know about Ebola – study about Ebola – and get a very good medication for Ebola before it spreads all over the world. So, he came and he died as a sacrifice to save the Africans.”

Just last month, the World Health Organization proclaimed Liberia Ebola-free.

Louise Troh’s new memoir, co-authored with Christine Wicker, is called, My Spirit Took You In: The Romance that Sparked an Epidemic of Fear. Think re-airs at 9 p.m., or listen to the podcast.