Victoria Yillia contracted Ebola last year after coming into contact with a nurse who had treated an infected person in Guinea. Nearing the end of her third trimester, the newly pregnant woman had no way of knowing what was in store for her and her family.
Soon after Yillia was treated by the infected nurse, her Ebola became apparent and she lost her first child in May last year. Shortly after her diagnosis, members of her village, including many family members, also contracted the disease as Ebola swept through Sierra Leone.
First, her sister’s baby boy passed away, followed shortly by her mother. Whilst Yillia was undergoing treatment, her parents, grandmother and three older sisters also passed.
Yillia’s husband, Anthony, told Associated Press that they had waited until Victoria gained some strength, before telling her the harrowing news.
“The pastor was called and the trauma was very high. It took a long time for her to be consoled. After we told her, she cried and cried for weeks.”
Yillia’s treatment was successful and she became the first ‘Ebola survivor’ to be released from hospital and was described in the media as ‘the face of survival of Sierra Leone’ – a country that had seen the deadly virus take the lives of over 4000 citizens.
Now, despite doctors telling her she would not be able to fall pregnant, Victoria has given birth to a healthy baby boy.
At first, doctors were hesitant to allow the mother to breastfeed – wanting to be certain her milk was free of any traces of the virus. But after she was given the all-clear, Victoria and her husband were able to take the baby home, where they can begin again, after the desolation that changed the course of their lives forever.
“Because I lost all my relatives, God has blessed me and I can start a new family,” Victoria told AP. “With this baby, all I have lost has come back to me.”
The baby, named Barnabas, after a biblical name that means the son of encouragement or consolation, was blessed by members of their local congregation at a church service in Kenema, Sierra Leone on August 16.
“He will be the foundation of our family, and a source of comfort to his mother,” said Anthony. “We pray that he will become a success in life.”