Reports have surfaced that two American aid workers who contracted the viral disease Ebola in Liberia will be flown back to the United States.
According to CNN, sources reported that an airplane leaving Georgia was on its way to Liberia to bring the Americans home and provide them with advanced Western medical care. CNN crew are said to have seen the plane depart for Africa after 5:00 p.m. Eastern, but no information has surfaced as to when the two would arrive.
The plane is said to be heading to Liberia to transport Dr. Kent Brantley and Nancy Writebol, both aid workers for the Christian organization Samaritan’s Purse, back to the United States. CNN reports that at least one of the two patients will be taken to a hospital at Emory University in Atlanta but did not indicate which one. Both are believed to be in “stable but grave” condition, with Dr. Brantley, who contracted the disease earlier, displaying more severe symptoms than Writebol.
ABC News notes that, while Brantley is in worse condition than Writebol, he refused a medication that may have help him defeat the disease. Brantley was in charge of the Ebola treatment operation in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital, and could have chosen to take what reports are describing as an “experimental serum” shipped out from the United States to the patients to fight the disease. There is no guarantee that the serum would work, but no cure currently exists for Ebola, and the treatment may have had an effect.
Dr. Brantley chose to give the serum to Writebol, a missionary for his same organization who worked for him. The choice, ABC reports, may have been affected by the fact that Brantley is said to have “taken a slight turn for the worse overnight,” according to a statement by Samaritan’s Purse. The statement took care to mention that Brantley’s relatively stable condition before that change was in large part to the credit of a former patient of Brantley’s – a 14-year-old boy who had once contracted Ebola and survived it thanks to Dr. Brantley’s efforts. “The young boy and his family wanted to be able to help the doctor that saved his life,” said the president of Samaritan’s Purse, Franklin Graham.
While many may consider the transfer of an Ebola-stricken patient an unnecessary risk to pose to the rest of the American population, National Geographic reported earlier this week – before the travel was reported – that it was “highly likely” that someone carrying the Ebola virus would travel to the United States via plane. In that same report, however, several experts explained that there was little risk of Ebola becoming a national epidemic the way it has in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, as the virus is contracted through bodily fluids, and many of the sick are becoming infected through unique Western African burial rituals that require close contact with the bodily fluids of the deceased.