Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

American Ebola Doc: 'I Am Thrilled to Be Alive'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

American Ebola Doc: 'I Am Thrilled to Be Alive'

Article excerpt

ATLANTA * Calling it a "miraculous day," an American doctor infected with Ebola left his isolation unit and warmly hugged his doctors and nurses on Thursday, showing the world that he poses no public health threat one month after getting sick with the virus.

Dr. Kent Brantly and his fellow medical missionary, Nancy Writebol, who was quietly discharged two days earlier, are still weak but should recover completely, and no one need fear being in contact with them, said Dr. Bruce Ribner, who runs the infectious disease unit at Emory University Hospital.

Brantly's reappearance was festive and celebratory, a stark contrast to his arrival in an ambulance under police escort three weeks earlier, when he shuffled into the hospital wearing a bulky white hazardous materials suit.

"I am thrilled to be alive, to be well, and to be reunited with my family," Brantly said, choking up as he read a written statement. Then he and his wife turned and hugged a parade of doctors and nurses, hugging or shaking hands with each one. For some, it was their first direct contact without protective gear.

After Brantly, 33, and Writebol, 59, were infected while working with Ebola victims in Liberia, their charity organizations, Samaritan's Purse and SIM, reached out to top infectious disease experts for help.

Working connections, they obtained one of only five courses available worldwide of an experimental drug known as Zmapp. Brantly and Writebol split the doses before being evacuated to Atlanta. The four other courses were later given to a Spanish priest, who died, and three doctors in Africa, who have been improving.

Brantly didn't take questions at Thursday's news conference, but he did briefly describe how they confronted Ebola back in Liberia. He said aid workers had begun "preparing for the worst" after learning of the outbreak in March, and saw their first patient in June. …

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