Ebola Survivor Dr. Kent Brantly Returning to Africa as Medical Missionary

Dr. Kent Brantly was one of several Ebola fighters recognized by Time magazine as the 2014 Person of the Year. Photo courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse

Dr. Kent Brantly sat on his counselor’s couch and wept.

The tears came last summer as the Christian physician visited with Dottie Schulz, a missionary care volunteer with Texas-based Mission Resource Network, which is associated with Churches of Christ.

“Dottie, I think I’m ready to move forward,” confided Brantly, who made global headlines five years ago when he contracted the Ebola virus while treating patients in Liberia and nearly died.

Brantly, who earned a Bible degree from Abilene Christian University in Texas before deciding to become a doctor, always knew he wanted to return to the mission field. But while he regained his full physical strength within four to five months, other healing has taken longer.

Much longer.

“It’s been five years of emotional healing and spiritual healing and growth,” the doctor, 38, told The Christian Chronicle in an interview at the Southside Church of Christ in Fort Worth, his family’s home congregation for much of the last decade. “I think we’ve grown and been equipped in ways during this five years that we were not before we went to Liberia.”

Dr. Kent Brantly sees a patient in Liberia before contracting Ebola in July 2014. Photo courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse

A week or two after his meeting with Schulz, Brantly got a call from Dr. Lance Plyler, director of World Medical Mission, the medical arm of the evangelical humanitarian aid organization Samaritan’s Purse.

On July 26, 2014, Plyler had stood at Brantly’s bedroom window in Liberia and confirmed the worst: “Kent, bud. We got your test results. And I’m really sorry to tell you it is positive for Ebola.”

Now, Plyler was calling to see if Brantly and his cousin Dr. Stephen Snell — who had talked and dreamed for years about their families serving as medical missionaries together — might move to Zambia.

Plyler cited a need for doctors at Mukinge Mission Hospital, a 200-bed facility in a rural area about 100 miles from the nearest supermarket. It’s about three hours from Zambia’s border with Congo.

For the first time since Brantly overcame Ebola as the world watched, the opportunity — and the timing — seemed right.

Patients enter Mukinge Mission Hospital near Kampela, Zambia, a rural community about 100 miles from the closest supermarket. Photo courtesy of Dr. Stephen Snell

“We’ve spent time praying and fasting and talking together about it … and God has really opened the doors every step of the way,” said Brantly, who with his wife, Amber, a registered nurse, and their two children, ages 8 and 10, will make the move to the south-central African nation this fall.

Said Schulz: “I am excited for them. They are finally doing what, in their hearts, they have wanted to do for a long time.”

From 2014 to 2016, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa claimed 11,325 lives, according to the World Health Organization.

Brantly, who woke up sick on July 23, 2014, credits prayers and antibodies for his recovery.

He received one of the first doses of ZMapp, an experimental drug that seemed promising in trials involving monkeys but had not been tested on humans.

On Aug. 1, 2014, he was flown to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, where doctors were able to see that his potassium level was low and replenish it — something that could not have been done in Liberia and could have killed him, as Brantly noted at the time.

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SOURCE: Religion News Service