Dr Kent Brantly’s condition is improving as he remains in the isolation unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. His wife, Amber, has been able to see him and said he was in good spirits.
“I have been able to see Kent every day, and he continues to improve,” she said. “I am thankful for the professionalism and kindness of Dr (Bruce) Ribner and his team at Emory University Hospital. I know that Kent is receiving the very best medical treatment available.”
Dr Brantly, who contracted the Ebola virus while treating patients in Liberia, is being treated at a special unit set up in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to treat patients who are exposed to certain serious infectious diseases. He was flown to the U.S. in a medical evacuation plane equipped with a special containment unit and arrived in Atlanta Saturday morning.
“It’s encouraging that he seems to be improving,” Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, told news outlets on Sunday. “That is really important, and we are hoping he will continue to improve.”
American Nancy Writebol, a missionary with SIM who also contracted Ebola in Liberia, arrived in Atlanta on Tuesday and is also being treated at the isolation unit.
“We thank God that they are alive and now have access to the best care in the world,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse. “We are extremely thankful for the help we have received from the State Department, the CDC, the National Institute of Health, WHO and, of course, Emory Hospital.
“Please keep praying and thank God for all He is doing.”
The safety of our staff is a top priority and Samaritan’s Purse is currently working to evacuate all but the most essential personnel to their home countries.
The exact timeline and destinations are being kept confidential to respect their privacy. Samaritan’s Purse is taking precautions that exceed the standards recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.
None of the evacuating staff are ill and the World Health Organization and CDC continue to reiterate that people are not contagious unless they begin showing symptoms. Following their evacuation, Samaritan’s Purse will work with staff to monitor their health.
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.
“The young boy and his family wanted to be able to help the doctor that saved his life,” Graham said.
Dr Brantly, a family practice physician, was serving in Liberia through the post-residency programme 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 US about a week ago, before he started showing any signs of illness.
Last week, Dr Brantly recognised that he had symptoms associated with Ebola, and immediately isolated himself.
Nancy Writebol works with SIM, which manages ELWA Hospital. The two organisations have been working closely 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 Centre at the hospital. She is married with two children.
“Their heroic and sacrificial service – along with the entire team there – is a shining example of Christ’s love in this crisis situation,” Graham said.
The two cases underscore the seriousness of the horrific outbreak that is spreading throughout Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea and infecting hundreds of people at an unprecedented rate. The deadly disease, which causes massive internal bleeding and has a mortality rate of 60 to 90 percent in most situations, has claimed more than 725 lives.
In the span of 32 years (1976-2008), the Ebola virus infected 2,232 people in remote village areas and killed 1,503. Just since early this year, the mortality rate has already claimed nearly a third of those fatalities as it has infiltrated three capital cities with populations in the millions.
Dr Brantly completed his residency in family medicine at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, before joining the post-residency programme.
“There’s an incredible level of braveness in Kent,” Robert Earley, president and CEO of JPS Health Network, told the <em>Fort Worth Star-Telegram</em>. “You don’t meet people like this every day.”