The family of the Spanish nursing assistant Teresa Romero, the first person to contract Ebola outside West Africa, has announced legal action against some of the people involved in her case.
Her husband Javier Limón, who was discharged from Carlos III hospital on Monday after being kept in isolation for 21 days, told the media that they will file a formal complaint against a Madrid health official who made controversial statements about Romero while she was “half-dead” in the hospital.
The family will also file a claim over the regional government’s decision to put down their dog Excálibur as a preventive measure. “Excálibur was executed without even giving me a chance to fight,” said Limón at a half-hour press conference held on Monday afternoon. “He was the child we never had.”
“This is a story filled with mistakes, unfortunate remarks and a lack of political control. The time has come to ask for accountability and to clean up everybody’s image. Teresa was never guilty,” he added.
We want to go back to our normal lives, but considering what I’m seeing today, that’s going to be difficult”
Limón admitted to feeling nervous about all the media expectation outside Carlos III Hospital, where Romero remains under close observation despite now being officially free of the virus. Eleven other people who were also in observation after coming in contact with Romero in the days prior to her admission were discharged on Monday morning after spending 21 days in hospital.
Romero’s husband described all the health workers who continue to care for her as “heroes.”
But he criticized politicians in charge of dealing with the crisis and specifically Madrid health chief Javier Rodríguez for “his lack of personal and professional respect for a person who risked her life” to care for an Ebola patient herself.
Teresa Romero worked as a nursing assistant at Carlos III, where she cared for one of two missionaries with Ebola who were repatriated from Africa last summer. It was at this time that she contracted the virus herself, although it is still unclear how.
Rodríguez criticized her in public for failing to inform her primary care physician about the nature of her work when she went in with a fever, and suggested that she didn’t understand how to remove a protective suit properly.
The official later issued a public apology and attempted to meet with Limón in hospital, an offer which Limón said he rejected.
The family lawyer, José María Garzón, said it remains to be determined whether a failure to respect the protocols may have endangered Romero’s life.
Limón dedicated her recovery to the victims of Ebola around the world, and said he hoped that his wife’s case would “serve to extinguish the virus” and develop a vaccine soon.
He also thanked Sister Paciencia, a nun who survived Ebola in Liberia and donated blood that was used on Romero in an experimental therapy. Romero herself has also expressed a desire to donate her own blood to try to help other Ebola victims.
For now, Limón will not be staying at the couple’s apartment in Alcorcón. “I’ve been told it’s going to be disinfected and that anything that needs to be replaced will,” he said. “We want to go back to our normal lives, but considering what I’m seeing today, that’s going to be difficult.”