Samaritan's Purse (Boone, NC)

30 July 2014

Liberia: Slight Improvement for Doctor with Ebola

Photo: Samaritans Purse
Dr. Kent Brantly cares for an Ebola patient in the isolation ward before he tested positive for the virus.

Monrovia — The Samaritan's Purse physician and a missionary working with a partner organization remain in serious condition

Dr. Kent Brantly, a doctor working for Samaritan's Purse, and Nancy Writebol, a missionary with SIM, have shown a slight improvement in the past 24 hours. However, both remain in serious condition in Liberia where they are being treated for Ebola.

Because of instability and ongoing security issues in the area, Samaritan's Purse is curtailing operations in Liberia. Non-essential personnel are being evacuated but medical staff are remaining on site to treat patients.

We ask that people continue to pray for Kent and Nancy and all those who are affected by Ebola and the tremendous group of doctors and nurses who are caring for them.

Dr. Brantly, medical director for the Samaritan's Purse care center serving the Liberian capital of Monrovia, and Writebol, part of the joint Serving In Mission/Samaritan's Purse team, continue to undergo intensive treatment at an isolation center at ELWA Hospital.

"We are doing everything possible to help Dr. Brantly and Nancy," Samaritan's Purse President Franklin Graham said. "We ask everyone to please pray urgently for them and their families."

Dr. Brantly, a family practice physician, was serving in Liberia through the 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. about a week ago, before he started showing any signs of illness.

Last week, Dr. Brantly recognized that he had symptoms associated with Ebola, and immediately isolated himself.

Writebol works with SIM, which manages ELWA Hospital. The two organizations 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.

The two cases underscore the seriousness of the horrific outbreak that is spreading throughout Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea and infecting hundreds of people at an unprecedented rate. The deadly disease, which causes massive internal bleeding and has a mortality rate of 60 to 90 percent in most situations, has claimed more than 670 lives.

In the span of 32 years (1976-2008), the Ebola virus infected 2,232 people in remote village areas and killed 1,503. Just since early this year, the mortality rate has already claimed nearly a third of those fatalities as it has infiltrated three capital cities with populations in the millions.

Samaritan's Purse is working in cooperation with Liberia's Ministry of Health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), United Nations agencies including the World Health Organization (WHO), and other NGOs to provide life-saving medical care for patients at ELWA Hospital near Monrovia.

Medical personnel have been treating patients through a method called barrier nursing, which eliminates skin-to-skin contact through thick, layered protective suits that are decontaminated each time a person leaves the isolation unit.

Dr. Brantly completed his residency in family medicine at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, before joining the post-residency program.

"There's an incredible level of braveness in Kent," Robert Earley, president and CEO of JPS Health Network, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "You don't meet people like this every day."

Dr. Brantly attended Southside Church of Christ in Fort Worth while working as a resident at John Peter Smith. At the Sunday morning service, there was a special prayer time for the doctor and his family.

"People are still taking it in," Jason Brewington, a church member who worked with Brantly told the Dallas Morning News. "It's just hard to believe there can be a virus so deadly."

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Dr. Brantly makes chlorine solution for disinfection at the case management center at ELWA Hospital in Monrovia before he was infected with the virus.

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