Doctor with Ebola safely back in U.S., second missionary to arrive soon

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Samaritan’s Purse medical doctor Kent Brantly, who contracted the Ebola virus while treating patients in Liberia, is now back home in the United States.

A medical evacuation plane equipped with a special containment unit arrived at Dobbins Air Force Base in Atlanta on Saturday (Aug. 2). Dr. Brantly was then transported to Emory University Hospital. Emory has an isolation 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.

Nancy Writebol, a missionary with SIM who also contracted Ebola in Liberia, will return to the U.S. for further treatment in a few days, according to SIM (www.simusa.org), the Christian mission organization with which she serves. She remains in serious, but stable condition.

“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.”

The same medical evacuation plane that brought Brantly back to the U.S. for treatment will return to Liberia and pick up Writebol. The plane, which is equipped with a unique containment unit, will fly into Dobbins Air Force Base in Atlanta. Writebol will then be transported to Emory University Hospital and placed in a special isolation unit set up in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control.

Nancy Writebol, a missionary from Charlotte working in West Africa against Ebola, was diagnosed with the virus on July 25, 2014. Photo courtesy SIM.
Nancy Writebol, a missionary from Charlotte working in West Africa against Ebola, was diagnosed with the virus on July 25, 2014. Photo courtesy SIM.

“We remain encouraged by Nancy’s condition, and we can’t wait to have her back home,” said Bruce Johnson, president of SIM USA. “We are grateful for the help and support of the U.S. State Department, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health, the World Health Organization and Emory Hospital. We are also extremely grateful for the prayers of people around the world.”

The safety of SIM’s and Samaritan’s Purse’s staff is a top priority for both ministries and they currently working to evacuate all but the most essential personnel to their home countries.

Both ministries are following strict personal and public health safety protocols established by the CDC and World Health Organization in these efforts.

Dr. Brantly turned down the offer of a dose of an experimental serum on Wednesday and asked that it be given to Writebol, according to Samaritan’s Purse.

“An experimental serum arrived in the country, but there was only enough for one person. Dr. Brantly asked that it be given to Nancy Writebol,” Graham said in a statement on the ministry’s website. “However, Dr. Brantly received a unit of blood from a 14-year-old boy who had survived Ebola because of Dr. Brantly’s care. The young boy and his family wanted to be able to help the doctor that saved his life.”

Dr. Brantly, a family practice physician, was serving in Liberia through our 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.

Writebol works with SIM, which manages ELWA Hospital. SIM and Samaritan’s Purse 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 Center 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.

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