Dr. Kent Brantly credits God for his recovery from the Ebola virus as he is released from Emory University Hospital
Dr. Kent Brantly, the Samaritan’s Purse doctor who contracted Ebola while caring for patients in Liberia, was released from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta on Aug. 21 after completing his recovery from the deadly virus.
“Today is a miraculous day,” Dr. Brantly said at a news conference at the hospital. “I am thrilled to be alive, to be well and to be reunited with my family. … Above all, I am forever thankful to God for sparing my life and am glad for any attention my sickness has attracted for the plight of West Africa in the midst of this epidemic.”
The ongoing outbreak of Ebola virus disease in West Africa is unprecedented in its range and scope. More than 3,600 total cases have been reported in five West African nations and a September 3rd update from the World Health Organization puts the death toll just below 2,000 victims.
Samaritan’s Purse national staff members in Liberia are continuing Ebola awareness programming within the country. Since mid-August, we have provided prevention education to thousands of church leaders and others, who will reach as many as 200,000 congregants with potentially life-saving information. These current activities build on our previous national awareness campaign, begun in March, which reached nearly 450,000 people.
Dr. Brantly was serving with Samaritan’s Purse when he contracted Ebola while working to contain the outbreak in Liberia. The doctor who entered an isolation ward day after day to care for his patients now was placed in one of his own.
“As I lay in my bed in Liberia for the following nine days, getting sicker and weaker each day, I prayed that God would help me to be faithful even in my illness, and I prayed that in my life or in my death, He would be glorified,” he said. “I did not know then, but I have learned since, that there were thousands, maybe even millions of people around the world praying for me throughout that week, and even still today. And I have heard story after story of how this situation has impacted the lives of individuals around the globe—both among my friends and family, and also among complete strangers. I cannot thank you enough for your prayers and your support. But what I can tell you is that I serve a faithful God who answers prayers.”Earlier this month, he was transported to Atlanta in a medical evacuation plane equipped with a special containment unit. He was taken to Emory University Hospital, where he was treated at a special unit set up in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to care for patients exposed to certain serious infectious diseases.
“I am incredibly thankful to all of those who were involved in my care, from the first day of my illness all the way up to today—the day of my release from Emory,” he said. “I want to thank Samaritan’s Purse, who has taken care of me and my family as though we were their own family. Thank you to the Samaritan’s Purse and SIM Liberia community. You cared for me and ministered to me during the most difficult experience of my life, and you did so with the love and mercy of Christ. Thank you to Emory University Hospital and especially to the medical staff in the isolation unit. You treated me with such expertise, yet with such tenderness and compassion. For the last three weeks you have been my friends and my family. And so many of you ministered to me not only physically, but also spiritually, which has been an important part of my recovery. I will never forget you and all that you have done for me.”
Dr. Bruce Ribner, director of Emory’s Infectious Disease Unit, said that Dr. Brantly poses “no public health threat.”
“We have determined that he has recovered and he can return to his family community and life without concerns,” Dr. Ribner said.
Nancy Writebol, the missionary who also contracted Ebola in Liberia, was released on Tuesday. She was serving with SIM, an organization that worked closely with Samaritan’s Purse to help combat the outbreak.
“My dear friend, Nancy Writebol, upon her release from the hospital, wanted me to share her gratitude for all the prayers on her behalf,” Dr. Brantly said. “As she walked out of her isolation room, all she could say was, ‘To God be the glory.’ Nancy and (her husband) David are now spending some much needed time together.”
Both Dr. Brantly and Writebol received a dose of an experimental serum while still in Liberia. Dr. Brantly also received a unit of blood from a 14-year-old boy who had survived Ebola under his care.
“We are tremendously pleased with Dr. Brantly and Mrs. Writebol’s recovery,” Dr. Ribner said. “Their hope and faith have been an inspiration to all of us. What we learned in caring for them will help advance the world’s understanding of how to treat Ebola infections and help, hopefully, to improve survival.”Dr. Brantly, a family practice physician, was serving in Liberia through the Samaritan’s Purse post-residency program before joining the medical team responding to the Ebola crisis. His wife and two children had been living with him in Liberia but flew home to the U.S. before he started showing any signs of illness.
As the Ebola outbreak spiraled out of control, Samaritan’s Purse evacuated all but the most essential personnel from Liberia to their home countries. None of the evacuating staff were ill, and the World Health Organization and CDC continue to reiterate that people are not contagious unless they begin showing symptoms.
National staff who remain in Liberia continue to carry out an Ebola prevention and awareness campaign.
“We have more than 350 staff in Liberia, and others will soon be joining them, so please pray for those who have served with Dr. Brantly—along with the other doctors, aid workers and organizations that are at this very moment desperately trying to stop Ebola from taking any more lives,” Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham said.
Writebol works with SIM, a missions organization that worked closely with Samaritan’s Purse to combat Ebola since the current outbreak began in Liberia in March. She had been working as a hygienist who decontaminated those entering and leaving the isolation ward of the Case Management Center at the hospital.