Enlarge / This photomicrograph shows hepatitis caused by the Lassa virus, using toluidine-blue azure II stain, 1972. The Lassa virus can cause altered liver morphology with hemorrhagic necrosis and inflammation. (credit: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
The pickup truck was so overloaded with medical equipment that the chassis sagged almost to the ground. Dr. Austin Demby had just finished loading up the Toyota Hilux with as many microscopes, IV bags, computers, and lab and chemistry equipment he could fit in the extended bed. And as fast as possible, he sped away from the hospital in Segbwema, Sierra Leone.
Literally under gunfire, Demby and his colleagues were fleeing the Revolutionary United Front, a violent and destructive rebel army. It was 1991, and a brutal civil war had just erupted, putting the staff at Nixon Memorial Methodist Hospital at extreme risk. So, they were evacuating.
Darting along the muddy roads, they drove into a deep pool of rainwater. Suddenly, the truck stalled. They opened the hood but couldn’t figure out what was wrong. The battery seemed fine.