The New York City Ebola patient was all over the news Friday as anchors and articles frantically tried to determine whether he had spread the deadly disease – where did he go in West Africa, why was he there, what did he do after returning to the United States? In short, who is he?
Dr. Craig Spencer, 33, speak five languages, plays the banjo and enjoys running. Spencer lives in an apartment on West 147th Street in Harlem, according to the New York Times. He’s a “responsible physician who always puts his patients first,” according to a statement from the New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, where he usually works in the emergency room.
Spencer contracted the virus while visiting Guinea with Doctors Without Borders. He went to Africa by way of Brussels in mid-September and came back Oct. 16, according to the Detroit Free Press. Before he left for Guinea, he posted a picture on Facebook of himself wearing a yellow protective suit. “Off to Guinea with Doctors Without Borders (MSF),” CNN reports he wrote on his page Sept. 18. “Please support organizations that are sending support or personnel to West Africa and help combat one of the worst public health and humanitarian disasters in recent history.”
Spencer is from Detroit, where he attended Wayne State’s School of Medicine from 2003 to 2008. He came to New York to do his residency at New York Hospital Queens, according to CNN. In 2011, he joined the Columbia University Medical Center as an instructor and fellow.
For years, Spencer worked on medical projects in Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. “He’s just a really awesome guy who really cares about people more than himself,” his friend Patrick Crossman told the Wall Street Journal. Two of Spencer’s other friends, as well as his fiancée, Morgan Dixon, are under quarantine, according to the Huffington Post.