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Ebola: A Medical Drama Unfolds


Samaritan’s Purse realizes that if any more of its workers get sick, they will effectively be stranded.

“The idea was, ‘What if all of a sudden eight or ten start getting it?’ You know, that runs through your mind, what can happen,” Furman says.

A decision is made by the organization to get out, regroup, and go back. Samaritan’s Purse decides to bring all non-essential personnel home.

Aug. 2 -- Brantly arrives at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta for treatment and becomes the first patient ever treated for Ebola infection on U.S. soil.

Furman says Brantly’s return to the U.S. was a great personal relief.

“As a doctor, what I didn’t realize is that Ebola can shut down the liver and the kidneys. If you shut down the kidneys over there, he’s dead,” Furman says. “There is no dialysis or anything like that.”

At Emory, at least, he could get dialysis if he needed it. But it turns out Brantly isn’t sick enough to need that kind of help. In a now-famous photograph, he stuns the world by walking off the ambulance and into the hospital.

“For him to walk instead of them carrying him, just that was a big deal [for Brantly],” Furman says. “He’s an eager-type person. He’s very upbeat.”

Aug. 3 -- Writebol is given a second dose of ZMapp.

Aug. 4 -- The plane and isolation pod return to Liberia to pick Writebol up. The flight takes off in the early morning hours.

Aug. 5 -- Writebol arrives for treatment at Emory. Bruce Johnson, the president of SIM USA, describes her condition in a press conference as “very weak.” She is wheeled into the hospital on a stretcher.

Like Brantly, she is treated in the hospital’s special bio-containment unit, one of only four such wards in the country capable of isolating highly infectious patients. The other units are at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha; St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, MT; and the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD.

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