Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Laura Wine

As a young registered nurse, Laura Wine was rejected for overseas mission service because she once had tuberculosis. Finally, after retiring from a career in nursing in the Chicago area, she was then accepted for volunteer service in Nigeria at a Church of the Brethren mission hospital. When she died in 1969 after a brief but severe illness, missionaries and doctors suspected a previously undiscovered viral disease that was later named Lassa Fever.

Author John G. Fuller who wrote Fever, the best-selling account of a four-year struggle to identify the deadly virus, writes of Laura's illness: "Neither she nor anyone else knew at the time that her malaise and backache would set into motion one of the most frightening episodes of modern medical history. It would reach from Africa to the United States in a series of unpredictable incidents that was to bring into action many of the leading medical scientists in the world."

John Hamer was the only doctor at Lassa during Laura Wine's final months there. He and his wife, Esther, observed that "Laura's giving of her life, which she was totally prepared to do for the sake of Christian service and medical advancement, was a symbol of love. Love made the difference all the way for her."

Source: Preaching in a Tavern, Kenneth I. Morse