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Desperate Ebola victims turn to black market seeking blood from survivors

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(NaturalNews) An American doctor who contracted Ebola while working as a medical missionary in Liberia has successfully donated his blood to another infected doctor, an unconventional process known as convalescent serum treatment. And now hordes of infected Africans are seeking the same treatment on the black market, where blood is being passed back and forth in the hopes of curing the deadly disease.

The World Health Organization (WHO) claims the treatment is "unproven," but The Washington Post (WP) says it almost definitely works. Kent Brantly, one of the first Americans to have contracted the disease, recently donated his blood -- Brantly no longer has Ebola -- to Rick Sacra, another American doctor who contracted Ebola while delivering babies in a hospital in Liberia.

According to reports, Brantly flew out from North Carolina on September 5 to Omaha, Nebraska, where Sacra is currently being treated at the Nebraska Medical Center. Since the two have the same blood type, Brantly was able to share a unit of his own blood with Sacra, which hopefully will contain the right antibodies to fight off the infection.

Franklin Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan's Purse, with which Sacra is affiliated, told NBC News that the transfer went smoothly, and that it was "a perfect match."

Black market blood could be tainted, wrong type

In a hospital setting, the process appears to provoke minimal or no complications, so long as the donor has the same blood type as the receiver. But this is not necessarily the case in West Africa, where victims are trading blood serum on the black market, where it may potentially become contaminated. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan explained at a recent press conference that her agency will do whatever it takes to "stamp out any black market activity."

"This is something we need to work very closely with the affected countries to stem," stated Chan. "The use of convalescent serum has to be done properly."

Concerns have been raised about patients suffering anaphylactic shock from receiving the wrong blood type, for instance, or contracting blood-borne diseases like HIV that could easily spread from contaminated vials. But with little else on the table as far as viable efforts to stem the tide of Ebola, it could be better than nothing.

"Studies suggest blood transfusions from... survivors might prevent or treat Ebola virus infection in others, but the results of the studies are still difficult to interpret," reads an official WHO document about Ebola treatments. "It is not known whether antibodies in the plasma of survivors are sufficient to treat or prevent the disease."

WHO endorses blood serum treatment despite concerns about safety, effectiveness

Despite these statements, WHO recently endorsed convalescent serum treatment as a worthwhile prospect, admitting that there aren't really any other options. If it worked for Brantly and Sacra, then it should work for at least some of the infected patients in West Africa.

"We agreed that whole-blood therapies and convalescent serum may be used to treat Ebola virus disease and that all efforts must be invested into helping affected countries use them safely," stated Marie-Paule Kieny, assistant director general for health systems and innovation at WHO, to reporters.

About half of those who become infected with Ebola survive, which means many of them could help others by sharing their blood. According to WP, Ebola survivors' blood could, in fact, be the most important and effective treatment currently available.

Learn all these details and more at the FREE online Pandemic Preparedness course at www.BioDefense.com

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