One of the New York Times’s top stories today is an extensive piece on Thomas Eric Duncan, the Ebola patient hospitalized in Dallas, that details the reason for his trip to the U.S. and gives a blow-by-blow of the days leading up to his hospitalization. Duncan came to Texas to reunite with and perhaps to marry a woman named Louise Troh, who he’d met in an Ivory Coast refugee camp in the early ‘90s—and with whom he’d had a son who he apparently hadn’t seen in 16 years.
It is not clear what drove the couple apart — Mr. Duncan, 42, who is fighting for his life at a Dallas hospital, has not spoken publicly, and Ms. Troh, 54, who will be quarantined for another two weeks, declined to discuss their history.
But starting in 1998, when Ms. Troh left for the United States — first settling in Boston, and then in Dallas with another Liberian man — they began a 16-year separation.
Duncan—who goes by Eric—has a sister in Charlotte and a brother in Phoenix, and his mother lives in the U.S. as well, though the Times doesn’t say where. Despite the long period Duncan and Troh had gone without seeing each other, Duncan’s brother in Phoenix has a son named Oliver Smallwood who lives with Troh in Dallas along with Troh’s 13-year-old son, Timothy Wayne. Duncan was staying at this mixed-family apartment when he became ill. Three days after he was seen and sent home by Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital personnel who failed to realize he might have Ebola, it was a daughter of Louise Troh’s named Youngor Jallah who realized he needed serious treatment:
She made him tea, and then fetched a blood pressure monitor from her car. The readings were frighteningly low, and his temperature measured close to 103, she said. His eyes had turned red, and he told her he had been to the bathroom seven times during the night. “O.K., you can have your tea, but then we are going to the hospital,” she told him. He resisted, saying he would wait for Ms. Troh to return. She circumvented the argument by calling 911.
Ms. Jallah said she was not thinking specifically about Ebola, but she had a warning for the arriving emergency medical workers: “You need to wear masks and be protective because this man is from a viral country.”
Duncan is still “fighting for his life,” CDC director Tom Frieden said yesterday.