Family of Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan, who died from Ebola in Sierra Leone, hold vigil in Maryland
BELTSVILLE, Md. (WJLA) - Hundreds of people packed a Beltsville auditorium Sunday to remember a doctor who died from the Ebola virus after risking his life to save others from an outbreak in Sierra Leone.
Four of Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan's siblings live in the United States, and three of those four live in Prince George's County.
"He knew he was risking his life," said brother Alhajie Khan at Sunday's service. "He was working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. All he was thinking was about helping people."
Khan's family members began immigrating to the U.S. several decades ago. They say Khan often visited America -- last coming to the DC area in May -- but his heart was always with his home country. They say he cancelled a presentation at Harvard in June to stay in Sierra Leone.
"He sent me an email," sister Umu Khan told ABC 7. "It said, 'it's so hectic here. The ebola is taking over this place. I'm so busy.'"
When he died Tuesday, Khan became one of more than 700 people who have died from Ebola in West Africa.
The president of Sierra Leone declared Khan a national hero after his death, crediting him with saving more than 100 lives.
His family is setting up a foundation in his name. They want it to support families of health care workers who die from disease, to help pay for medical training for students, and to support development of medicines to fight Ebola and other diseases.
Family members say they were told a plane was made available to take Khan to Germany for treatment, but he was never able to leave Sierra Leone.
"The flight was there for over three days, just waiting for him to be stabilized, to be transported," Umu Khan said. "It never happened. He succumbed to the disease."
Khan was 39 years old.