Dr. Kent Brantly, the Fort Worth-trained doctor who contracted the Ebola virus in Liberia, says he's thrilled to be alive.
“Today is a miraculous day,” said Brantly, who has recovered from Ebola. “I am thrilled to be alive. To be well and to be reunited with my family.”
On Thursday morning, Brantly spoke publicly for the first time about his month-long ordeal. He expressed appreciation to the medical staff at Emory that treated him. He thanked those who had prayed for him – and encouraged people to continue praying for those in Africa who have Ebola.
Brantly has been released from Emory. The other aid worker who contracted Ebola, Nancy Writebol, has already been released from the hospital.
Hospital officials discussed the news at a press conference this morning, saying that Brantly and Writebol both pose no public health risk.
Brantly, 33, and Writebol, 59, were flown out of Liberia to Atlanta earlier this month. They received treatment for the deadly disease in an isolation unit at the hospital. They were infected while working at a missionary clinic outside Liberia's capital.
Both received a dose of an experimental serum while they were in Liberia. Brantly also got a unit of blood from a 14-year-old boy who survived Ebola -- a boy whom Brantly had treated.
At the press conference, Brantly didn’t take questions from reporters. Brantly said he will spend time reuniting with his family and will eventually share more about his story.
Brantly said he had taken every possible precaution to avoid contracting Ebola.
On July 20, he woke up feeling sick.
“Then my life tool an unexpected turn,” he said. “I was diagnosed with Ebola virus. As I lay in my bed in Liberia for the following nine days in getting sicker and weaker each day I prayed that God would help me be faithful even in my illness. And I prayed that in my life or in my death that he would be glorified. I did not know then but have learned since that there were thousands maybe even millions of people around the world praying for me that week and even still today and I have heard story after story about how this situation has affected the lives of individuals around the globe.”
Brantly added: “I cannot thank you enough for your prayers and your support. But what I can tell you is that I serve a faithful God who answers prayers. Through the care of Samaritan’s Purse and the SIM mission team in Liberia, the use of an experimental [serum] and the expertise and resources of the health care team at Emory Hospital, God saved my life. A direct answer to thousands and thousands of prayers.”
"A day of great joy"
Brantly was trained at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. Hospital officials are pleased to hear the news of his release.
The hospital issued a statement this morning:
“This is a day of great joy at JPS Health Network. Dr. Kent Brantly’s recovery represents what we work to achieve every day – providing care that allows patients to reunite with their loved ones,” said Jill Labbe, a hospital spokeswoman. “We extend our sincere thanks to the care team at Emory University Hospital for helping our former JPS Family Medicine resident reach this amazing milestone.”
"Giving thanks to God"
Brantly has been working for Samaritan’s Purse, the aid relief group based in North Carolina. The organization issued a statement:
“Today I join all of our Samaritan’s Purse team around the world in giving thanks to God as we celebrate Dr. Kent Brantly’s recovery from Ebola and release from the hospital,” Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham said. “Over the past few weeks I have marveled at Dr. Brantly’s courageous spirit as he has fought this horrible virus with the help of the highly competent and caring staff at Emory University Hospital. His faithfulness to God and compassion for the people of Africa have been an example to us all.”
Dr. Brantly survived the virus that typically causes massive internal bleeding and has a mortality rate of 60 to 90 percent in most situations. The current outbreak of Ebola has claimed more than 1,350 lives in the west African countries of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
“I know that Dr. Brantly and his wonderful family would ask that you please remember and pray for those in Africa battling, treating and suffering from Ebola,” Graham said.
Fund set up for Brantly family
The JPS Foundation has established a fund to assist the Brantly family. Personal items in Liberia had to be destroyed, the hospital says. Visit www.givetojps.org. A drop-down window allows donations to be earmarked for Dr. Brantly, JPS says.
Contributions designated for the Brantly Fund can be mailed to:
1223 S. Main St.
Fort Worth, Texas 76104