About two weeks ago, Dr. Kent Brantly arrived in the US for treatment after he was diagnosed with Ebola. But yesterday he walked around the room at Emory University Hospital on Thursday, hugging staff members and shaking hands.
It was like he wanted everyone to know: I’m no longer infectious. The virus is out of my system. Ebola didn’t beat me.
Brantly and Nancy Writebol, another American missionary infected with Ebola in Liberia, have been discharged from the hospital. Writebol was released Tuesday and is choosing not to make public comments, according to the hospital.
“Today is a miraculous day,” Brantly said at a news conference Thursday. “I am thrilled to be alive, to be well and to be reunited with my family.”
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Emory’s staff is confident that the American patients’ discharges pose “no public health threat,” said Dr. Bruce Ribner, director of Emory’s Infectious Disease Unit. He said the reason the public was not made aware of Writebol’s release immediately was that she requested her discharge not be publicly announced.
“Nancy is free of the virus, but the lingering effects of the battle have left her in a significantly weakened condition,” her husband, David Writebol, said in a statement. “Thus, we decided it would be best to leave the hospital privately to be able to give her the rest and recuperation she needs at this time.”
But Brantly passed along gratitude from the woman with whom he has shared a harrowing journey.
Both patients were evacuated from Liberia this month, in a plane specially equipped with an isolation tent, and accompanied by medical staff outfitted in head-to-foot protective clothing. The plane was able to take only one patient at a time and made two trips. The patients were taken to an isolation unit at Emory, where they’d been treated for the last few weeks.
As she walked out of her isolation room Tuesday, Brantly recalls Writebol saying, “To God be the glory.”
“We are tremendously pleased with Dr. Brantly and Mrs. Writebol’s recovery,” Ribner said at the news conference. “What we learned in caring for them will help advance the world’s understanding of how to treat Ebola infections and help, hopefully, to improve survival” in other parts of the world.
“There may be some recovery time because this is a fairly devastating disease,” but in general, Ebola patients who survive without organ damage are expected to “make a complete recovery,” he said.
Brantly and Writebol’s releases are historic, says medical expert, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. They were the first humans with Ebola to ever arrive in the United States. And they were the first humans to receive an experimental Ebola drug called ZMapp, which may have saved their lives.