Belfast Telegraph

Scottish nurse fighting Ebola virus is cousin of ex-Republic and Celtic goalkeeper Packie Bonner

By Greg Harkin

A Scottish nurse fighting the Ebola virus is a cousin of former Republic goalkeeper Packie Bonner, it emerged today.

Prayers are being said for Pauline Cafferkey in west Donegal where her grandparents hail from.

Bonner’s mother and Ms Cafferkey’s grandmother were sisters.

Relatives in Kincasslagh - the home parish of singer Daniel O’Donnell - were being kept up to date on her condition.

The nurse been moved to a specialist unit at London's Royal Free Hospital.

Former Glasgow Celtic hero Packie was unavailable for comment today but a neighbour told The Herald: “Packie would have been close to his Scottish cousins when he was in Glasgow.

“Everyone here in west Donegal will be praying for Pauline’s recovery.

“It is typical of her to volunteer to help in Africa. She’s a kind-hearted young woman.”

Ms Cafferkey had worked as a nurse for 16 years before starting volunteering with Save the Children to help with the Ebola crisis.

She flew out to Freetown in November with four other Scottish volunteers.

During her time in Sierra Leone's "red zone", she wrote a diary about her experiences for the Scotsman chronicling her journey from the Blantyre Health Centre in South Lanarkshire to Ebola's front line.

She said she felt well-protected in the "alien-type suit" of protective clothing health workers wear in 30C heat, joking that they would "certainly be beneficial on a cold winter's night in Scotland".

In her third week, Ms Cafferkey described the harrowing experience of watching a woman die from Ebola as her young son watched through the window, made an orphan by the virus that claimed both parents and his sister.

Despite the sorrow, she said seeing survivors be discharged back into the outside world with celebratory singing and dancing made the work worthwhile.

"It helps us remember the good work we are doing and the reason we are all here," she wrote.

Save the Children said almost 200 people had been treated for Ebola at the Kerry Town Treatment Centre, which opened in November and has 80 beds.

Ms Cafferkey returned to the UK after four weeks via Casablanca and London Heathrow, arriving at Glasgow Airport at around 11.30pm on Sunday and took herself to hospital early yesterday morning after feeling feverish.

Michael von Bertele, Save the Children's humanitarian director, said: "Our thoughts are with the individual, their family and colleagues at this difficult time. We wish them a speedy recovery.

"Save the Children is working closely with the UK Government, Scottish Government and Public Health England to look into the circumstances surrounding the case."

Health officials are tracing the 71 other people who were on the British Airways flight from London to Glasgow.

Two other patients are currently being tested for Ebola in Aberdeen and Cornwall.

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