By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
MONROVIA/ATLANTA (BosNewsLife)– American Christian doctor Kent Brantly, who contracted the potentially deadly Ebola virus while treating patients in Liberia, has arrived in the United States where he was put in isolation for further treatment, his charity Samaritan’s Purse confirmed.
American missionary Nancy Writebol, who caught Ebola when serving on a joint team with the doctor, returns to the U.S. “in the next few days” in the same aircraft that carried Dr. Brantly on Saturday, August 2, added her mission group Serving in Mission (SIM).
The medical evacuation plane, equipped with a containment unit, already flew Dr. Brantly to Dobbins Air Force Base in Atlanta from where he was transported to Emory University Hospital, officials said.
Emory has an isolation unit set up with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to treat patients who are exposed to certain serious infectious diseases.
“We thank God that [Dr Brantly and missionary Writebol] are alive and now have access to the best care in the world,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse.
Writebol will also be treated at Emory hospital, according to SIM representatives. Her husband, David, was to travel back to the U.S. separately this week to be in the Atlanta area near his wife.
“We remain encouraged by Nancy’s condition, and we can’t wait to have her back home,” stressed Bruce Johnson, president of SIM USA.
Writebol, 60, is a married missionary from Charlotte, North Carolina; Dr. Brantly, 33, comes from Fort Worth, Texas, and is married with two young children.
Dr. Brantly’s wife and children had been living with him in Liberia but flew home to the U.S. before he started showing any signs of illness, Samaritan’s Purse said.
Though his condition remains serious, Dr. Brantly turned down an experimental serum last week and asked it be given to missionary Writebol instead, Graham explained. “There was only enough for one person [but he] asked that it be given to Nancy Writebol.”
Graham said the doctor had received the unit of blood from a 14-year-old boy who 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.”
With Ebola spreading, Samaritan’s Purse and SIM announced they would evacuate all non-essential personnel to their home countries over the weekend. The groups claim to take precautions “that exceed the standards” recommended by the CDC and say none of the evacuating staff are ill.
“We are extremely thankful for the help we have received from the State Department, the CDC, the National Institute of Health, World Health Organization and, of course, Emory Hospital,” Graham stressed.
It comes amid mounting concern that Ebola will go beyond West Africa, with the Emirates airline suspending all flights to Guinea saying it wants to contain the disease.
The Dubai-based airline is the first major international airline outside Africa to impose a ban in response to the latest known outbreak, which has so far killed at least 729 people across four countries.
Described by the WHO as by far the worst outbreak ever recorded in the disease’s four-decade history, it originated in Guinea and spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The death of Patrick Sawyer, an American doctor, last month raised fears that the virus could spread throughout the world. He was able to take two flights from Liberia — where he is thought to have contracted the disease — before being quarantined in Lagos, Nigeria, where he died.
There is no known cure for Ebola, which begins with symptoms including fever and sore throat and escalates to vomiting, diarrhea as well as internal and external bleeding.
The two American Christians infected with Ebola may be among the few patients who survive, officials said. Their families had been urging prayers.
The virus is spread by direct contact with blood or bodily fluids from a sick person. Ebola can’t be spread like flu through casual contact or breathing in the same air, according to health experts.
The Americans’ condition has underscored the dangers faced by aid workers, including Christians. Yet, Samaritan’s Purse and SIM said they would continue treating Ebola patients.
SIM announced it was sending another American doctor to help with the treatment of Ebola patients at its ‘ELWA treatment center’ in Liberia’s capital Monrovia. SIM currently has two doctors on site that have been caring for Dr. Brantly, Writebol and others.
“Other SIM ministries, including its radio station, school and HIV-AIDS public health education group, continue to operate with Liberian staff,” the mission group said.
SIM says it has a staff of nearly 3,000 workers serving in more than 65 countries in areas of health care, education and community development while being “a Christian witness”.
Its partner Samaritan’s Purse calls itself “a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization” providing “spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world.”
Why people are ready to suffer for Christ? Want to know more what they believe? Click here
(BosNewsLife (2004-2014) is the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians. It has been ‘Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals’ since May 2004).
Please help BosNewsLife to remain a voice of the voiceless. Click here for a subscription.
Follow BosNewsLife via Twitter