As desperation in combatting the West African Ebola outbreak reaches new heights, patients have turned to the black market to buy the blood of survivors, according to the World Health Organization.
Since antibodies in the blood could help in fighting the deadly infection, convalescent serum derived from Ebola survivors has become a coveted treatment. Though serum’s effectiveness has not yet been verified, it offers a glimmer of hope for those who have been infected by the virus, which has no proven cure.
In fact, convalescent serum was most recently used to treat American Ebola patient Rick Sacra, who was hospitalized in Nebraska after contracting the disease in Liberia.
At a press conference in Geneva last week, WHO director-general Margaret Chan warned of the dangers behind the growing illicit trade for blood, which could lead to the spread of other illnesses like HIV.
Thus far, 2,630 deaths due to Ebola have been reported, while another 5,357 people have been reported to be infected.