Ebola outbreak won’t stop Baylor resident’s medical mission

Jo Weddle, M.D., who recently completed her surgical residency at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, is leaving this weekend for a medical mission in Africa. (Photo by Rex Curry)

The deadliest ever Ebola outbreak in Africa isn’t stopping a Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas resident from traveling to the continent to conduct trauma research over the next few months.

Jo Weddle, M.D., who recently completed a surgical residency with Baylor Dallas, said she hasn’t had any second thoughts about heading to Cameroon this weekend. She’ll be researching the impact of trauma on patients, families and physicians at Mbingo Baptist Hospital. It’s a continuation of the research she’s been doing here on trauma patients and their families.

The brave 32-year-old doctor was featured earlier this month in a USA Today story about her planned mission.

Dr. Weddle said in an interview with Scrubbing In that she has been in touch with the hospital and “they continue to assure me that everything is safe and they haven’t had any issues.”

“This is something I’ve always felt strongly about doing,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to work in an international environment. I’ve always wanted to work in a low-resource environment.”

The outbreak has reportedly killed 1,400 people in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria. According to recent reports, a separate outbreak has claimed at least two lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Ebola is not believed to have spread to Cameroon, which reportedly closed its borders with Nigeria earlier this month in a bid to halt the spread of the virus.

According to the USA Today report, the epidemic has not dissuaded many others from embarking on medical missions:

Faith in Action, which is affiliated with the Baylor Health Care System, helps send about 150 doctors, nurses and other medical workers to missions around the world each year, with one-third of those going to Africa. Some have expressed caution about going directly to Liberia, Sierra Leone or other countries reporting Ebola deaths, director Don Sewell said. But interest in the missions — even in Africa — hasn’t waned.

“In no respect has it deterred the general enthusiasm and fervor of people ready to go,” he said. “People are still making plans to go.”

For Dr. Weddle, there’s another personal connection to the Ebola outbreak. She trained at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, where she met Dr. Kent Brantly, an aid worker who became the first person to be treated for Ebola in the United States. Dr. Brantly, who contracted the virus in Liberia, and another aid worker were recently released from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta after doctors declared they had recovered.

About the author

Scott Goldstein
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Scott is a former Dallas newspaper reporter. His father and two brothers are doctors, so healthcare is his family business.

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Ebola outbreak won’t stop Baylor resident’s medical mission