September 18, 2014 / 3:45 PM / 4 years ago

British Ebola survivor flies to United States for blood donation

Sept 18 (Reuters) - A British man who survived Ebola after being treated in London has flown to the United States to try to help another patient suffering from the virus, the Foreign Office in the United Kingdom said on Thursday.

Media reports said William Pooley planned to donate his blood, which likely contains protective antibodies that could help fight the disease, for an emergency transfusion to an Ebola patient in Atlanta.

An American doctor who worked for the World Health Organization is being treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta after he became infected with Ebola in Sierra Leone.

A spokesman for the Emory hospital would not confirm on Thursday whether the doctor, who has not been named, will be getting blood donated from the British man, citing patient privacy laws.

There are two Ebola patients being treated in the United States. A spokesman for the Nebraska hospital where another American is receiving care for the virus said the British man was not headed to that facility.

Pooley, 29, contracted the disease while working as a volunteer nurse in Sierra Leone. He was discharged earlier this month from a special isolation unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London after 10 days of treatment with the experimental ZMapp drug.

London’s Evening Standard newspaper said Pooley and the doctor he is hoping to help were reported to be close friends after working together at the Ebola treatment center in Kenema, Sierra Leone.

The pair has the same blood type, which made Pooley the perfect donor, the newspaper said.

There is no proven cure for Ebola, a deadly virus that was discovered nearly 40 years ago in the forests of central Africa. The worst-ever outbreak on record of the virus, which has killed at least 2,630 people in West Africa, has triggered a scramble to develop the first drug or vaccine to treat it.

Earlier this month at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Dr. Rick Sacra received a plasma infusion from another American Ebola survivor, Dr. Kent Brantly. Brantly’s blood likely contained protective antibodies that doctors said could help buy Sacra some time while his body worked to fight off the infection.

Brantly’s blood type also turned out to be a match for his friend and fellow missionary Sacra. (Reporting by Stephen Addison in London and Colleen Jenkins in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Editing by Bill Trott)

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