Dr. Kent Brantly walked into Thursday's press conference showing no signs of his almost month-long battle with the deadly Ebola virus, which came close to taking his life, and the life of his colleague Nancy Writebol. The head of the team caring for both, infectious disease specialist Dr. Bruce Ribner, told reporters, "The medical staff here at Emory is confident that the discharge from the hospital of both of these patients poses no public health threat."
As the 33 year old medical missionary hugged the team of 22 nurses and 5 doctors who cared for him and Writebol in a special isolation unit, Dr. Ribner explained that tests show Brantly has recovered from the virus, “And that he can return to his family, community and to his life, without public health concerns."
But how do doctors know it's safe to discharge the two missionaries, who battled a strain of Ebola now killing more than half of its victims?
Dr. Ribner says blood tests showed Brantly and Writebol no longer carry the virus in their blood and their symptoms have largely resolved.
He says, "There may be some recovery time because this is a fairly devastating disease. But we would anticipate that in general most patients if they've not had any substantial organ damage will make a complete recover."
It's not clear how Dr. Brantly and Writebol, who were working at a Liberian charity hospital, were infected. Dr. Brantly says they took precautions, and wore protective gear. He says he's grateful for the team in Liberia, who helped keep him alive. Reading from a statement, Brantly said, "Thank you to the Samaritan's Purse and SIM Liberia community. You cared for me me and ministered to me during the most difficult experience of my life. And you did so with the love and mercy of Jesus Christ."
Dr. Ribner says it was the right decision to bring Brantly and Writebol to Emory. And, he says, “All of us who have worked with them have been impressed by their courage and determination. Their hope and faith have been an inspiration to all of us."
Brantly says he never expected the worldwide attention he would get when he fell ill in Liberia July 23rd.
He says he and his wife Amber felt called to serve in Liberia before the Ebola outbreak surfaced. Now, he says, he's praying for the thousands still living with the threat of this killer-disease. Dr. Brantly says, “Above all I am forever grateful to God for sparing my life. And I'm thankful for any attention my sickness has attracted to the plight of West Africa in the midst of this epidemic. Please continue to pray for Liberia and West Africa.”
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