The Scottish nurse who nearly died from Ebola after travelling to Sierra Leone has exclusively told ITV News how she feared she might "die a horrible death" after contracting the virus.
Pauline Cafferkey has spoken exclusively to Julie Etchingham discussing the horror of being diagnosed with Ebola, not once but twice, her fight for survival and her hopes for the future.
"I was obviously very shocked, I just knew that I had to stay strong and I just had to try and keep it together," she said in an interview for ITV News and the Tonight programme.
"I was just thinking I could die a horrible death within the next few days".
She also revealed that she didn’t want her family to see her while she was ravaged by the virus.
"I said 'do not let anybody in here, I do not want anybody to see me', which is quite selfish really, but I just didn't want them to see me like that."
"I asked my doctor to phone my family and inform them, because I couldn't do it, it would just upset me.
"I actually refused to have my family come in, to come and visit me. I was suffering, and you wouldn’t want to see your child or your sister going through that".
To this day, she still has no idea how she caught the deadly virus.
The 40-year-old Scottish nurse volunteered to help tackle the Ebola crisis at its height, travelling to Sierra Leone in 2014 to help the afflicted and dying.
After five weeks in West Africa, Pauline came back to the UK in late December.
She was screened seven times in total for the symptoms of Ebola and allowed to return home, but after developing a high temperature she contacted the Infectious Diseases Unit at Glasgow's Gartnavel Hospital.
Once in hospital, blood samples soon confirmed her doctor's worst fears.
"The doctor came and told me that it came back as positive”.
Pauline was flown to the Royal Free Hospital in London and put in their High Level Isolation Unit, where she was told she was in a critical condition, leading her to fear that death was imminent.
“The first or second day my mouth was very painful. And then as time went on, I had a horrendous rash, I was in a lot of pain and then my body became swollen. I think probably my organs were starting to fail at that point”.
Incredibly, after almost a month, Pauline turned a corner and beat the virus.
But it resurfaced last year, triggering Meningitis and nearly killing her again, and in February she was briefly re-admitted with further complications, but she is now looking forward to the future.
“I have been negative of Ebola for seven months now and don’t believe I will have another relapse.
"Looking to the future I’m not sure what it will hold. I’m positive it will be full of good things as it can’t get any worse than what I have gone through and I’m sure the memories will fade with time."
Watch more of Pauline's story on the Tonight programme.
- Pauline's Story - Living with Ebola: Tonight will be broadcast on Thursday at 7.30pm on ITV