US Doc Hit With Ebola Held Dying Patients' Hands

Friday, August 08, 2014
Dr. Kent Brantly, one of two American Ebola patients flown from Liberia to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, says he's "growing stronger every day."

In a letter penned from the Emory isolation room, Brantly offered a glimpse of what it was like to treat Ebola patients at ELWA hospital in Monrovia, Liberia.

"I held the hands of countless individuals as this terrible disease took their lives away from them," he wrote. "I witnessed the horror first-hand, and I can still remember every face and name."

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The ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed 961 people out of the 1,779 infected, according to the World Health Organization. It is by far the worst Ebola outbreak on record.

Brantly, a 33-year-old father of two, isolated himself as soon as he sensed Ebola symptoms coming on earlier this month. Three days later, test results confirmed that he had the deadly disease.

"When the result was positive, I remember a deep sense of peace that was beyond understanding," he said. "God was reminding me of what He had taught me years ago, that He will give me everything I need to be faithful to him."

Brantly shocked doctors on Saturday when he walked into Emory University Hospital. He and missionary Nancy Writebol, had been given an experimental Ebola treatment made by Mapp Biopharmaceuticals that had been shown to be helpful in monkey studies.

"The plain fact is that we don't know whether that treatment is helpful, harmful or doesn't have any impact," Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testified before Congress earlier this week. "We're unlikely to know from the experience of two or a handful of patients whether it works."

The World Health Organization will convene a panel to discuss the ethics of providing experimental treatments in the outbreak.

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