Sierra Leone doctor with Ebola on way to the U.S. for treatment

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Ebola virus.

(CNN) — A Sierra Leone doctor diagnosed with Ebola left the West African nation Saturday and is headed to Nebraska for treatment, U.S. officials said.

Dr. Martin Salia, who is a legal permanent resident of the United States, is married to a U.S. citizen.

He splits his time between New Carrollton, Maryland, and his native Sierra Leone, where he works at a Methodist hospital, CNN affiliate WJZ reported.

“He doesn’t think of himself as someone important,” his son, Maada Salia, told the affiliate. “He puts himself down and helps those who really need help.”

It’s unclear whether he was infected while working at a treatment center in Sierra Leone — one of three countries most affected by the deadly virus.

An air ambulance crew evaluated him in Freetown this week and determined he was well enough to travel to Omaha.

The Nebraska Medical Center is one of four hospitals in the United States with biocontainment units and years of preparation in handling highly infectious disease such as Ebola.

It has successfully treated two American Ebola patients — Dr. Rick Sacra, who was released in September and Ashoka Mukpo, a freelance NBC cameraman who was discharged last month.

Both contracted the virus in Liberia and were later flown to the United States for treatment.

A number of factors could impact the latest patient’s treatment, said Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN chief medical correspondent.

“We don’t know how sick he is,” Gupta said. “We don’t know what stage of the disease he is (in).”

The virus has killed at least 5,177 people mostly in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization.

Of those, Sierra Leone has reported nearly 1,200 deaths in the outbreak, which started this year.

All Ebola patients treated in the U.S. have survived except for Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan, who was treated in Dallas. He died last month.

CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen contributed to this report.