FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – A retrofitted private jet is making its way to the United States on Friday with one of the two Americans who have been infected with the Ebola virus in West Africa. Both individuals are under emergency medical evacuation orders.
Fort Worth doctor Kent Brantly was a member of Southside Church of Christ in Fort Worth before moving to Africa. The congregation has kept in touch with him and his family. They are now praying for his healing.
Brantly was in Africa with a missionary group called Samaritan’s Purse. According to the group, Brantly’s health had taken a turn for the worse and he required blood. It came from a 14-year-old boy who had survived Ebola because of Brantly’s medical care. Some 1,300 people have been striken with Ebola and more than 700 have died.
The private plane was sent to Liberia to pick up either Brantly or fellow aid worker Nancy Writebol, who have been diagnosed with Ebola. They are in grave condition, but said to be stable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention retrofitted a business jet with an isolation pod and proper medical equipment, in an attempt to retrieve one of the two Americans and bring them back to the U.S. for aggressive treatment. The retrofitted plane is only capable of carrying one patient at a time.
The patient will be taken to a highly secured section of Emory University Hospital, near the CDC’s headquarters. That facility has an isolation unit which is equipped to deal with this type of infection. Hospital officials will not confirm when that patient is scheduled to arrive. The CDC is staying very quiet about the plan as well.
A spokesperson for the CDC said that she was not aware of any Ebola patient being treated in the U.S. before.
The State Department released a statement confirming the transfer of the two American patients. The statement said in part, “The safety and security of U.S. citizens is our paramount concern. Every precaution is being taken to move the patients safely and securely, to provide critical care en route on a non-commercial aircraft, and to maintain strict isolation upon arrival in the United States.”
Brantly is an Abilene Christian University alum. “Kent’s the kind of guy who would weigh the benefits versus the risks and try to take himself out of the equation,” said university official Gary Green. “He’d be considering ‘What do I bring to the table? Is it going to be so much that the risk is worth it, because I can benefit so many people.’ And that’s just the way he is. That’s the kind of person he is in his heart.”
“We need more people like that,” added school official Chris Flanders. “Maybe this situation here can serve to illuminate opportunities that exist all around us, to step out of our comfort zones and, sometimes, to even step into situations of great danger in order to bless other people. That’s what his example is, it seems to me, is teaching all of us.”
In a statement, Brantly’s wife said that she and their kids — ages 3 and 5 — are in Texas and have shown no symptoms of the disease. They returned to the U.S. shortly before he started showing signs of Ebola. “I remain hopeful and believing that Kent will be healed from this dreadful disease. I am grateful for the daily reports I receive from his doctors on the ground. He is strong and peaceful and confident in the love of Jesus Christ, which is his sustenance right now,” Amber Brantly’s statement read.
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