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American missionary battling Ebola to arrive in U.S. on Tuesday

AfricaDiseases and IllnessesU.S. Centers for Disease Control and PreventionSamaritan's Purse
Nancy Writebol, an American missionary stricken with Ebola, was expected to arrive in the U.S. on Tuesday

As a deadly Ebola virus outbreak produced more victims in West Africa, an American missionary stricken with the disease was expected to arrive in the United States on Tuesday to join a U.S. doctor receiving treatment at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

The air ambulance that brought Dr. Kent Brantly to Atlanta on Saturday morning was sent back to Liberia, on the west coast of Africa, to pick up Nancy Writebol, said a statement from SIM USA, a Christian organization with which Writebol serves.

Bruce Johnson, the organization's president, said Writebol's husband, David, had told him that "her appetite has improved, and she requested one of her favorite dishes -- Liberian potato soup -- and coffee."

"We are so grateful and encouraged to hear that Nancy's condition remains stable and that she will be with us soon," Johnson said.

Like Brantly, Writebol became infected with Ebola while volunteering in Liberia to treat others who fell ill during an outbreak that has now hit four countries: Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

There is no cure for the disease, which is spread through bodily fluids and is not contagious until a person becomes symptomatic after an incubation period. But Emory doctors say victims have a far better chance of survival if they have top-notch "supportive care" to keep their vital organs strong as the body fights the virus.

That level of care, virtually absent in Liberia and most of West Africa, will be provided at Emory in a special isolation ward designed in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to treat people with contagious and highly dangerous diseases.

The jet that will carry Writebol to Atlanta landed in Monrovia, the Liberian capital, on Monday night, the Associated Press reported. It was to take off with Writebol early Tuesday.

In Nigeria, Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu confirmed that nation’s first home-grown case of Ebola on Monday. Chukwu said a doctor who had treated an Ebola victim who flew into Lagos, Nigeria, from Liberia on July 20 now has the disease.

The doctor treated Patrick Sawyer, 40, who collapsed in Lagos' airport after getting off his flight. Sawyer died five days later in a Nigerian hospital. At least eight other Nigerians remain hospitalized and quarantined while they are tested for the virus.

Samaritan's Purse, the aid agency Brantly works for, said he and Writebol both received "a dose of an experimental serum" after falling ill in Liberia last week. Brantly also received a unit of blood from a 14-year-old boy who survived Ebola while under Brantly’s care, Samaritan's Purse said.

Samaritan's Purse did not say what was in the serum.

Follow @TinaSusman for updates on the Ebola crisis and other national news

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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