Emory University Hospital releases Ebola patients - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Emory University Hospital releases both American Ebola patients

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Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol

Officials from Emory University Hospital announced Thursday that Nancy Writebol, who contracted Ebola while working as a missionary nurse in Africa was released Tuesday from the hospital where she was undergoing treatment for the virus. The other Ebola patient in Atlanta, Dr. Kent Brantly, the Samaritan's Purse doctor who contracted Ebola while caring for patients in Liberia, was released from Emory University Hospital Thursday.

"Today is a miraculous day," Brantley said. "I'm thrilled to be alive, to be well, and to be reunited with my family."

In an 11 a.m. news conference, Emory University Hospital's Bruce Ribner, MD, medical director of Emory's Infectious Disease Unit, discussed the discharge of Brantly and Nancy Writebol from the hospital. Dr. Bruce Ribner assured the news media that neither patient poses a public health threat.

"We have determined in conjunction with the centers for disease control and state health departments that doctor Brantly has recovered from the Ebola virus infection and that he can return to his family, to his community and his life without public health concerns," Dr. Bruce Ribner, Infectious Disease Unit Director said.

Brantly's wife stood by his side while he explained their mission in Africa.

"When my family moved to Liberia two years ago, Ebola was not on the radar," Brantly said. In March, when we heard Ebola had spread to Guinea, we prepared for the worst. The first patient came in June. And the number of Ebola patients steadily increased in July."

On July 20, Dr. Brantly sent his family home. On Wednesday, July 23, Brantly woke up feeling "under the weather." He was subsequently diagnosed with Ebola. And for nine days, he lay in his bed in Liberia as his symptoms worsened and he prayed, Brantly said.

Ribner proceeded to take questions after Dr. Brantly finished his statement, thanked his Emory team of doctors, nurses and chaplains and hugged everyone involved with his recovery.

Ribner reiterated that the released patients pose no risk to public health. They will not relapse. They are not contagious. They do not carry the virus, and there is no Ebola virus present in their bodies. The patients are immune to their particular strain of Ebola, but there are five strains of the virus.

Ribner said, when asked how the Emory treatment will assist their colleagues in Liberia, that the patients' nutritional status was extremely important.

"We are in the process of creating guidelines to disseminate to our colleagues in West Africa regarding food and electrolyte replacement," Ribner said.

Ribner said the decision to release the patients was made on a case-by-case basis in compliance with WHO and CDC guidelines. And they have no knowledge of long-term side effects related to the experimental treatment. Ribner could not comment on the experimental treatment Brantly and Writebol received at Emory.

When asked why Writebol was released without notifying the media, Dr. Ribner said, "She requested it."

SIM, the missionary organization Writebol is affiliated with, released the following statement about the discharged nurse:

"Nancy Writebol, the SIM missionary stricken with Ebola Virus Disease and undergoing treatment in an isolation unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, has tested clear of the virus and was discharged from the hospital on Tuesday, Aug. 19. She and her husband, David, have gone to an undisclosed location to rest and spend time with one another."

"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," Samaritan's Purse President Franklin Graham said in a statement. "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."

Brantly arrived in Atlanta from Liberia on Aug. 2 and Writebol arrived on Aug. 5.

Brantly, 33, went to Liberia with his wife and two children last year to serve a two-year fellowship through Samaritan's Purse post-residency program.

He was there initially to practice general medicine. But when the Ebola outbreak began, he took on the role of medical director for the Samaritan's Purse Ebola Consolidated Case Management Center in Monrovia. It's there that he tested positive for the virus, according to the evangelical Christian relief charity.

Writebol, 59, and her husband David were in Monrovia, Liberia when she was infected with the Ebola virus.

Since August 2013, the Writebols have worked for the Serving in Mission (SIM) group, which worked with Samaritan's Purse.

Writebol was working as the personnel coordinator, helping SIM missionaries entering the country. She also served as a certified nursing assistant. Her duties at the clinic included disinfecting doctors and nurses entering or leaving the Ebola treatment area. Her husband was the technical services manager at the same facility. Nancy was diagnosed with Ebola on July 25, 2014.

An Emory official said that treatment at its hospital gave the patients a better chance to survive, and that they felt they owed them the right to receive the best medical care.

Emory's isolation unit is one of only four such units in the country, according to the hospital. However, Dr. Ribner said that it was simply "convenient, but not necessary to treating and isolating infectious diseases."

Copyright 2014 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. CNN contributed to this report.

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