Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday's Weekly Round-Up - 192 (Ashoka Mukpo)

Colorful family: Ashoka Mukpo,  an 33-year-old American freelance journalist working in Monrovia, Liberia, has tested positive for Ebola, his biological father has confirmed

Prayers for Ashoka Mukpo   (Prayers for all sentient beings)

September 18 Ashoka Mukpo Facebook posting: 
"man oh man i have seen some bad things in the last two weeks of my life. how unpredictable and fraught with danger life can be. how in some parts of the world, basic levels of help and assistance that we take for granted completely don't exist for many people. the raw coldness of deprivation and the potential for true darkness that exists in the human experience. i hope that humanity can figure out how we can take care of each other and our world. simple, soft aspiration for all my brothers and sisters on this earth who suffer the elements and the cold. may we all be free, loved, and tended to…"

Ashoka Mukpo, the NBC News cameraman infected with Ebola, was named the reincarnation of a Buddhist Lama. He is seen here in Tibet  at a ceremony where he was enthroned as the ninth incarnation of Khamnyon Rinpoche, the so-called 'Mad Yogi of Kham'
[Ashoka Mukpo enthroned as the ninth incarnation of Khamnyon Rinpoche]

Ashoka Mukpo (center) with his mother, Diana (third from left) and birth father Mitchell Levy (far right) during a visit to Tibet in 2002. (
[Ashoka Mukpo in Tibet with family (2002) - 
Top: left to right, Rölpe Dorje Rinpoche, Karma Senge Rinpoche, Khenpo Tsering Gyurme, Gesar Mukpo, Lady Diana Mukpo, Ashoka Mukpo, Garwang Rinpoche, Lamen Dr Mitchell Levy].

Ashoka with half-brother (and the son of Diana Mukpo & Chogyam Rinpoche), Gesar Mukpo

We see the hypocrisy/myopia of the West at work, of course - the so-called "developed nations" - "Too little, too late". "Out of sight, out of mind" - "Yes, but how many Americans, how many Westerners, perished?" - Remember Donald Rumsfeld, at the height of the war in Iraq?  - "Well, we don't do body counts on other people" - Only when it's "one of ours", right  

3,879 deaths reported, up to the end of the 5th of October, by the Ministries of Health of  LiberiaGuinea, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. In addition, 8,o33 "probable, confirmed or suspected", according to current World Health Organization estimates. And, as they point out, both for statistical and practical reasons, these numbers are unquestionably vastly under-representative of the true nature of the present global epidemic of EVD (Ebola Virus Disease) that the "civilized" West is only just now waking up to.      

Ashoka Mukpo was diagnosed on October 1st with the Ebola virus. He had been hired as second cameraman in Liberia for NBC's chief medical editor and correspondent, Dr Nancy Snyderman. He has been working in West Africa on and off as a journalist these past three years, reporting in the field (see, for example, this wise, informed dispatch). He was also (and the reason, self-evidently, we're pre-empting the usual Round-Up and featuring him here) a tulku, raised in part, by Chogyam Trungpa, Allen's Buddhist teacher. 

He ultimately decided not to embrace his status as a reincarnated lama, although he remains very much a practicing Buddhist. 

Mr Mukpo is stretchered from the plane on Monday after arriving from Liberia  to be treated for Ebola at Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha
[Ashoka Mukpo arriving in the United States on Monday, October 6 2014]

Flown in on Monday to special facilities at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, his condition allegedly worsening, the procedure of blood-transfusion from an Ebola survivor (Dr Kent Brantly, who had earlier donated blood to fellow doctor and Ebola survivor, Dr Rick Sacra) was attempted this past Wednesday (along with on-going treatment with the experimental drug, brincidofovir)  
(That same day, Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient diagnosed outside of Africa, died at the Dallas, Texas, hospital, Texas Health Presbyterian, where he was being treated).

Nancy Writebol - Kent Brantly - Ebola - COMP.jpg
[Kent Brantly]

[Thomas Eric Duncan]

Current reports on Mukpo's conditionPhilip Smith, director at the Nebraska unit (quoted yesterday) - he remains "sick but stable" . Notwithstanding the enormity and the severity of the situation, doctors and family remain resolute and hopefulHis brother, David, told the local (Nova Scotia) Halifax Chronicle "He's definitely very tired and in rough shape, but the doctor's are optimistic..He's been very weak (but) he is in very good spirits when people talk to him"

A "must-read", this New York Times article (published yesterday) - "With Ebola's Arrival at Nebraska Center, It's No Longer A Drill" (on the Nebraska facility)

Please also go here for a note from his mother (Lady Diana Mukpo) and information how he can be helped with catastrophic health expenses.

Our thoughts go out to Ashoka, to his family,  his friends, and, as his mother
compassionately and perceptively remarks, not only Ashoka - "I know Ashoka would like us all to turn our thoughts to the thousands of people in West Africa and across the world who are battling this deadly illness", she gently reminds us.

Thought and action - please - before it is too late.    

The makeshift markers for graves of Ebola victims lie scattered in a burial site located on swampland, some two hours from the capital city of Monrovia.
[Makeshift markers for the graves of Ebola victims - 2014 - A burial site in swampland in Liberia]   

October 23 - Very very pleased to report Ashoka's recovery and return to his parent's home in Providence, Rhode Island. But, of course, the attention now, on all the many  (growing  numbers) who were - or are - themselves not so fortunate - not fortunate enough to have access to absolute state-of-the-art health care - or,  for that matter, even, to any viable health care or practical assistance, compassionate medical treatment. The Ebola crisis remains a singularly urgent crisis.

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