Ebola survivor Pauline Cafferkey: I don't regret going to Sierra Leone - it was a privilege to represent the NHS

Writing for ITV News, Pauline Cafferkey explains why she will never regret going to treat Ebola patients in Sierra Leone despite nearly dying from the disease herself.

  • By Pauline Cafferkey

Looking back at the whole experience it still seems quite surreal.

This time last year I was pretty much back to full health and I was starting to put everything behind me.

Now almost a year and a half since my initial infection and a terrible relapse causing meningitis it still seems to be a large part of my life but I feel very fortunate to be alive.

The relapse was different as my brain and spine were affected and I could do very little for myself.

I have gone from being pushed around in a wheelchair to walking on crutches, to walking with a stick then walking independent, every step feeling like a milestone achievement.

I have had a long, slow road to recovery and still have residual issues with my health, which I need to come to accept may be lifelong.

Pauline is transported to an RAF aircraft in February 2016. Credit: PA Wire

Those who were involved in my management worked tirelessly often putting their lives on hold in an attempt to save mine.

I am extremely grateful to the staff that looked after me in both Glasgow and London.

Because my family and I went through so much the staff in the Royal Free in particular became like our second family.

In telling my story it has been somewhat cathartic and has not stirred up too many bad memories.

My concentration now is on how far I have come.

I have no regrets about going out to Sierra Leone and never will.

It was a privilege to represent the NHS, all of us going out there knew the risks, I just got unlucky. I have no plans to do any aid work at present.

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.

  • Pauline's Story - Living with Ebola: Tonight will be broadcast on Thursday at 7.30pm on ITV

Pauline (centre right) with the team who helped treat Ebola patients. Credit: Handout
Dr Michael Jacobs who treated Pauline. Credit: PA Wire
Pauline speaking to Julie Etchingham. Credit: ITV News