EXCLUSIVE: She risks her own life for an act of love. Over, and over, and over again.

Tonight Anne Carey tells her story to Channel 9’s 60 Minutes.

Most Ebola victims die alone.

They don’t die alone because there are no family or friends who love them. They die alone simply because the very nature of the disease means that it’s just too dangerous to die surrounded other people.

Because – as reporter Michael Usher puts it in an incredible episode of 60 Minutes due to air tonight on Channel 9 – “just one unprotected touch from the infected, can be deadly.”

Australian woman Anne Carey doesn’t like to see people die alone.

The 56-year-old West Australian is a nurse with the Red Cross. And in the past year alone, she’s been on three separate assignments to the West African nation of Sierra Leone to help fight the war against Ebola.

Read more: All your questions about the Ebola virus. Answered.

“There comes a point where you know they’re going to die so there’s not much else in trying anything else except pain relief for them, to just make them comfortable. And you get used to that look – when people are going to die.”

“I just think touch is really important… So if you know someone’s going to die and you can spend 40 minutes more, it’s quite nice to do that so they’re not so scared because it must be really hard for them.”

Every day, Carey dresses in a protective suit, gloves, googles and boots and seeks to bring some comfort to the victims of the unforgiving virus that has claimed more then 8700 lives in the West African countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Take a look at Anne’s life in Sierra Leone. (post continues after the gallery)


It’s dangerous and devastating work.

In her first weeks on the job, Carey watched a mother of seven say good bye to the three children she had left.

“I got dressed up in the protective suit and there was a mother with her four week old child,” she told 60 Minutes reporter Michael Usher.

“And that child – as soon as I came into the centre – it convulsed, it fitted and then it proceeded to bleed… from everywhere. And it just bled to death,” she said.

“This mother was the mother of seven children. When this child died, she had two more children left in the centre but they also died. So she lost seven of her children. She had nothing to live for.

“I held her hand. I’m not sure if she found that helpful. But I felt that for me it was the only thing I could do, even though I was still in the protective suit. So I stayed with her a while and just held her hand.”

So far more than 8700 people have lost their lives.

Almost half the patients who enter the makeshift hospital that Carey works in won’t ever come out again. Most nights, when Red Cross staff leave the hospital, they wonder which of their patients will have survived the night when they return in the morning.

These kind of experiences would be too much for many of us. But not for Anne Carey. She doesn’t let the emotion take over, because if she and her fellow workers did? The crisis could be even more dire than it is.

Read more: This is what Ebola looks like up close. And it’s terrifying.

Carey says that the protective suit allows her a level of protection from feelings that might otherwise take over.

“I think there will be a time when I grieve later on, but while you’re here, it’s just a bit hard to do that. There’s not a time to do that.”

“By wearing the suit, I think it shields you a little bit. It shields your heart and your head a little bit from your emotions. So you can deal with that later.”

Watch an exclusive clip of Anne Carey’s story here:

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Anne Carey’s story will air on Channel 9’s 60 Minutes tonight at 8:10pm.