Ebola: A Medical Drama Unfolds
End of March -- Investigators count 111 suspected cases and 79 deaths.
One of the main ways the virus is spread is through local burial customs that involve kissing a corpse.
“In the hours after death with Ebola, that is when the body is most infectious, because the body is loaded with the virus. Everybody who touches the corpse is another infection,” Ken Isaacs, vice president of programs and governmental relations for Samaritan’s Purse, said in congressional testimony.
Brantly says the medical team at ELWA hospital first learned the Ebola infection had spread to Liberia in March.
June 2014 -- The medical team at ELWA hospital treats its first Ebola patient. “We began preparing for the worst,” Brantly says. “We were ready.”
June to July -- The number of Ebola patients treated at ELWA hospital increases steadily. “Our amazing crew at ELWA Hospital took care of each patient with great care and compassion. We also took every precaution to protect ourselves from this dreaded disease,” Brantly says.
July 20 -- Brantly takes his wife and children to the airport for a planned visit to the U.S. After they left, “I poured myself into my work even more than before.”
July 22 -- Dr. Sheik Umar Khan, the doctor leading the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone, learns from a test he's caught the virus. He is quarantined in a medical ward run by MSF.
Doctors that work for the WHO offer Khan’s medical team an experimental drug that’s never been given to people. It’s called ZMapp. They have a small box of frozen samples.
“There was only one box of drugs in the whole African continent” that might fight the disease, says Richard Furman, MD, a retired surgeon and co-founder of World Medical Mission, the health care arm of Samaritan’s Purse.
Hoping Khan could pull through on his own, his doctors declined the treatment.
“They decided it was too much risk,” Furman says.
July 23 -- Brantly says he wakes up feeling “under the weather.” He isolates himself at the hospital.