By Jesse Wood
Aug. 21, 2014. One of the two Americans that contracted the Ebola virus while working in Liberia has recovered from the virus, which is said to have no known cure, after taking a “experimental serum” and receiving a unit of blood from a 14-year-old Liberian boy who had previously survived Ebola.
Dr. Kent Brantly, medical director for Samaritan’s Purse care center in the Liberian capital of Monrovia, was released from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta after undergoing intensive treatment in an isolation center, according to a release from Samaritan’s Purse on Thursday.
Following his recovery and release, Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham released a statement:
“Today I join all of our Samaritan’s Purse team around the world in giving thanks to God as we celebrate Dr. Kent Brantly’s recovery from Ebola and release from the hospital. Over the past few weeks I have marveled at Dr. Brantly’s courageous spirit as he has fought this horrible virus with the help of the highly competent and caring staff at Emory University Hospital. His faithfulness to God and compassion for the people of Africa have been an example to us all.
“I know that Dr. Brantly and his wonderful family would ask that you please remember and pray for those in Africa battling, treating and suffering from Ebola. Those who have given up the comforts of home to serve the suffering and the less fortunate are in many ways just beginning this battle.
“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.”
The other American to contract the virus was Nancy Writebol, a missionary serving with the Serving in Mission (SIM) and Samaritan’s Purse team in Liberia, where she was also serving with her husband, David Writebol, who recently completed a 21-day medical monitoring period on Sunday.
Nancy Writebol, the SIM missionary stricken with Ebola virus and undergoing treatment in an isolation unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, has tested clear of the virus and was discharged from the hospital on Tuesday, Aug. 19. She and her husband, David, have gone to an undisclosed location to rest and spend time with one another.
“After a rigorous course of treatment and testing, the Emory Healthcare team has determined that both patients have recovered from the Ebola virus and can return to their families and community without concern for spreading this infection to others,” Bruce Ribner, MD, director of Emory’s Infectious Disease Unit, said at a press conference today.
Criteria for the patients’ discharges were based on blood and urine diagnostic tests and standard infectious disease protocols. Emory said its medical team maintained its extensive safety procedures throughout the treatment process and is confident the discharge of the patients poses no public health threat.
“The Emory Healthcare team is extremely pleased with Dr. Brantly’s and Mrs. Writebol’s recovery, and was inspired by their spirit and strength, as well as by the steadfast support of their families,” said Ribner.
The following statement was made by Nancy Writebol’s husband, David, today:
“Nancy joined the ranks of a small, but hopefully growing number of survivors of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) when she walked out of the Emory University Hospital Isolation Unit on Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 19. She had been in isolation fighting the disease since July 26. Nancy is free of the virus, but the lingering effects of the battle have left her in a significantly weakened condition. Thus, we decided it would be best to leave the hospital privately to be able to give her the rest and recuperation she needs at this time.
“During the course of her fight, Nancy recalled the dark hours of fear and loneliness, but also a sense of the deep abiding peace and presence of God, giving her comfort. She was greatly encouraged knowing that there were so many people around the world lifting prayers to God for her return to health. Her departure from the hospital, free of the disease, is powerful testimony to God’s sustaining grace in time of need.
“We wish to give our word of thanks to Dr. Ribner and the staff at Emory University Hospital for their kind dedication to Nancy’s care during her stay. We also give our thanks to the SIM doctors and the Samaritan’s Purse team in Liberia for their loving and tireless care for Nancy. We thank God for these and so many others whom God used to bring Nancy back from the brink of death. It is hoped that the things the doctors and researchers have learned as a result of Nancy’s illness will be applied to the saving of many lives.”
“Nancy and David are taking a long, well-deserved break of peace and quiet to reflect on all that has transpired over the past four to five weeks, all that God has done, and seeking how God will lead them in future paths of service, “ said Bruce Johnson, president, SIM USA. “The courageous, humble, faith-filled spirit of the Writebols is a testament to the same calling and commitment of the thousands of their co-workers in SIM from Asia, Africa, Europe, North and South America.”
Writebol was serving with her husband at SIM’s ELWA mission campus in Monrovia, Liberia, when she and Brantly contracted Ebola. Brantly was serving at the ELWA Hospital as part of a cooperative work between SIM and Samaritan’s Purse. After treatment in Liberia, both were flown to Atlanta and admitted to Emory University Hospital, where they underwent additional treatment.
David Writebol was flown to Charlotte from Liberia on Aug. 10 and completed his 21-day precautionary health watch on Aug. 16.