Fort Worth doctor contracted Ebola in Liberia, aid group says

07/26/2014 10:21 PM

07/26/2014 10:37 PM

A family medicine physician from Fort Worth who has been in Liberia working with Ebola patients has tested positive for the deadly virus, his aid organization said Saturday.

Dr. Kent Brantly, 33, is being treated at a hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, according to a news release from Samaritan’s Purse.

Brantly is medical director for the organization’s case management center in Monrovia.

Brantly completed his residency in family medicine at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Robert Earley, president and CEO of the JPS Health Network, said Saturday.

“There’s an incredible level of braveness in Kent,” Earley said. “You don’t meet people like this every day.”

Brantly is known as “a very kind man” who is driven to learn about diseases and other ailments, Earley said.

Brantly has been in Liberia since October as part of the charity’s post-residency program for doctors, said Melissa Strickland, the group’s spokeswoman.

Brantly’s wife and children had been living with him in Africa but are currently in the United States, she said.

Ebola, a highly contagious virus, is one of the deadliest diseases. Photos of Brantly working in Liberia show him in white coveralls made of synthetic material that he wore for hours a day while treating Ebola patients.

Brantly was quoted in a posting on the organization’s website this year about efforts to maintain an isolation ward for patients.

“The hospital is taking great effort to be prepared,” Brantly said. “In past Ebola outbreaks, many of the casualties have been healthcare workers who contracted the disease through their work caring for infected individuals.”

The disease has killed 672 people in several African countries since the outbreak began this year.

Earley said he and the staff at JPS were “all stunned” to hear that Brantly was ill.

Earley noted that viruses are not confined to any country and can travel quickly.

“When you live in Dallas-Fort Worth, at an international airport hub, you know these issues in health aren’t regional,” he said.

Samaritan’s Purse, based in Boone, N.C., is “a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world,” its website says. Its board chairman, president and CEO is evangelist Franklin Graham.

Staff writer Taylor Prater contributed to this report, which includs material from The Associated Press.

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