Two American healthcare workers with the aid organization Samaritan's Purse who had been in Liberia to fight an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus both came down with the disease. Dr. Kent Brantly, who understood the gravity of his chances better than most, refused the single available dose of an experimental drug developed to fight Ebola. Instead, he asked medical workers to give it to his colleague, Nancy Writebol, according to the New York Daily News.
There is no known cure for the disease. The two are in "stable but grave" condition. A medical charter flight with an isolation pod is on its way to Liberia to evacuate Brantly and Writebol back to the United States, according to CNN. The hospital at Emory University, which is near the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, has said that it will take one of the two. Brantly was instead scheduled to receive a blood transfusion, including a unit of blood from a 14-year-old saved from Ebola by the doctor, according to the Daily News report.
Amber Brantly, wife of the 33-year-old doctor, released a statement through Samaritan's Purse to offer her "heartfelt thanks to the many people who have reached out to me and my family during this difficult time."
The disease is highly dangerous, with a fatality rate of 90 percent, according to the World Health Organization. Ebola is communicated through contact with bodily fluids of infected animals or humans. Medical workers "have frequently been infected ... through close contact with patients when infection control precautions are not strictly practiced."
Many people have been asking how I am doing. The children and I are physically fine. We had left Liberia prior to Kent's exposure to the virus. I am always anxiously awaiting any news from Liberia regarding Kent's condition. Through the mountain tops and the valleys of this ordeal I have been given a peace that comes from my relationship with my God. Jesus remains the Rock that I lean on. I feel strengthened each passing hour by your prayers. Through letters and comments, we have felt God's love and comfort poured out to us from literally every corner of the world.
The leading Ebola doctor in Sierra Leone recently died from the disease, as the Washington Post reported.
After finishing his residency two years ago, Dr. Brantly and his family moved to West Africa to help people, according to the Associated Press. He had been treating patients in Monrovia, Liberia and became the medical director of the Samaritan Purse's Ebola relief Center in recent months when he noticed his own disease symptoms.
"Kent is a calm, confident, focused individual, with a deep calling for the work that he's doing," said Dr. David McRay, of the Fort Worth, Texas John Peter Smith Hospital, to AP. "Many people are infected with Ebola in Africa, and many people are not surviving. And Kent does not see his situation as unique in any way." According to CNN, the World Health Organization estimates that Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria have seen 1,323 cases between March and July 27.