Dr. Kent Brantly brought Ebola home for Americans. Last year’s outbreak was unprecedented in its scope and caught the public health officials flat-footed. Soon, Americans were greeted with wall-to-wall coverage of Dr. Kent Brantly being transported from West Africa to Emory University for treatment.
Located in Atlanta, GA, Emory University is home to one of the few centers in the United States specifically equipped to deal with Ebola patients. He arrived stateside in critical condition but was declared disease free just three weeks later.
Brantly survived an Ebola epidemic that at current count has claimed 11,260 lives. While the spread has slowed, West Africa is still dealing with hotspots of infections.
According to Dr. Brantly’s wife, Amber, he put a face to the epidemic. The coverage he received put the world on notice that Africa needed help and health officials should prepare for the worst. Fortunately, the dire predictions never came to pass, but the virus continues to pop up in West Africa.
Nearly a year after he contracted Ebola, both Keith and Amber are telling their story in a new book, Called for Life. In it they explain what moved him to go to Liberia.
From Fort Worth, Texas, Dr. Brantly was working with the Samaritan’s Purse Post-Residency Program and practicing general medicine in hospitals in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia.
The two medical missionaries were in country as the Ebola first appeared in March of 2014 in Guinea. While localized at the time, doctors in Monrovia began setting up hands-on training for the entire hospital staff.
Months of treating Ebola patients passed until the morning of July 23, 2014. Dr. Brantly remembers waking up feeling sick with a fever that would not break. He treated himself as though he had Ebola, but held out hope it was malaria or dengue fever.
Three days later he had the diagnosis of Ebola. He credits Dr. John Fankhauser, another missionary doctor working alongside him, with keeping him alive just long enough. He recommended supplementing his fluids with potassium, which Dr. Brantly insists saved his life.
Back home, the news lit up with a debate over whether he should be brought home to the United States. The average American didn’t understand the disease past a few movies.
Luckily, science won out, and he was transported back to the United States and has since made a full recovery.
You can read his and Amber’s story in their book published on July 21, 2015. The full title is Called for Life: How Loving Our Neighbor Led Us into the Heart of the Ebola Epidemic and you can find it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble or other retailers.