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“Not the glittering weapon fights the fight, says the proverb, but rather the hero’s heart.Maybe this is true in any battle; it is surely true of a war that is waged with bleach and a prayer.”Nancy Gibbs, Time magazine, 2014
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Dr. Kent Brantly, missionary physician to Liberia
Dr. Kent Brantly awoke feeling ill- muscle aches, fever, sore throat, headache and nausea. As his condition progressively worsened to include difficulty breathing, he learned the cause of his illness- the Ebola virus. Having spent the past few weeks caring for patients caught up in the Ebola epidemic that swept Liberia in the spring of 2014, Dr. Brantly had contracted the disease himself, and would likely die, as almost all victims do.
Dr. Brantly, a graduate of Indiana University’s School of Medicine, had volunteered to work at ELWA Hospital in Liberia which was receiving aid from Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief organization. This hospital served as Monrovia’s Ebola treatment center and Dr. Brantly headed the unit.
As his condition deteriorated, his physicians decided his only hope for recovery was use of an experimental drug, ZMapp, previously untested on humans. Since otherwise he was likely to die, he received the drug by infusion into a vein. By the next morning he felt well enough to arise from bed and shower. Unknown to him, thousands of people around the world had been praying for him.
During this time his colleague, nurse Nancy Writebol, was battling her own Ebola infection. She also was treated with ZMapp.
Samaritan’s Purse arranged for both of them to be evacuated to the United States. There, they could continue receiving supportive medical care, as well as allow infectious disease specialists to learn from their conditions. It also would relieve the workload on the doctors who continued to care for Ebola patients at ELWA.
Dr. Brantly and his wife Amber, who had just left Liberia to return home for a visit, wrote a book about their experience,Called for Life.