Those words – the first Abilene Christian University graduate Kent Brantly, M.D. (’03), has said publicly since he contracted the Ebola virus two months ago – came during a Thursday morning news conference at Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital.
Brantly’s hospital care team says he appears to have fully recovered and “can return to his family, to his community and to his life without public health concerns,” according to Bruce Ribner, M.D., an infectious disease specialist and professor in Emory’s School of Medicine.
“We are tremendously pleased with Dr. Brantly and Mrs. [Nancy] Writebol’s recovery and we are profoundly grateful for the opportunity to have applied our training, our care and our experience to meeting their needs. All of us who have worked with them have been impressed by their courage and determination,” said Ribner.
Emory University Hospital officials said Writebol, a nursing coordinator for Samaritan’s Purse, had been released Tuesday.
During his statement to reporters, Brantly spoke about the events leading up to his infection and treatment.
“We moved to Liberia because God called us to serve the people of Liberia,” said Brantly. In March, he and his team began “preparing for the worst” and started treating patients in June, taking every precaution to protect themselves from the disease.
On July 20, Brantly said his wife and children returned to the United States and redoubled his efforts to fight the epidemic. Three days later, his life “took an unexpected turn” with the first sign of his illness.
Over the course of nine days in bed while still in Liberia, Brantly said he prayed God would help him be faithful through illness. “I prayed that in my life or in my death, He would be glorified,” Brantly said.
He said he was moved to learn that there have been “possibly millions” of people praying for him around the world.
“I cannot thank you enough for your prayers and your support, but what I can tell is that I serve a faithful God who answers prayers. … God saved my life – a direct answer to thousands and thousands of prayers,” he said. “Thank you to my family, my friends, my church family and all who lifted me up in prayer, asking for my healing and recovery. Please do not stop praying for the people of Liberia and West Africa for a quick end to this Ebola epidemic.”
Brantly said he and his family are “going away” to reconnect, decompress and regain strength.
“Above all I am forever thankful to God for sparing my life, and I’m glad for any attention my sickness has attracted to the plight of west Africa in the midst of this epidemic,” he said. “Please, continue to pray for Libera and the people of west Africa, and encourage those in positions of leadership and influence to do everything possible to bring this Ebola outbreak to an end.”
Brantly became infected with the Ebola virus while serving a two-year fellowship for Samaritan’s Purse, working at a missionary clinic outside Liberia’s capital. He served his medical residency at John Peter Smith Hospital and attended Southside Church of Christ in Fort Worth before he and his family left for Liberia in October 2013.
Franklin Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, shared a written statement on the organization’s website:
“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. 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. 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. Those who have given up the comforts of home to serve the suffering and the less fortunate are in many ways just beginning this battle. We have more than 350 staff in Liberia, and others will soon be joining them, so please pray for those who have served with Dr. Brantly – along with the other doctors, aid workers and organizations that are at this very moment desperately trying to stop Ebola from taking any more lives.”