For most of us, surviving an infection that kills most of its victims would be enough.
And for even more of us, being named person of the year by Time magazine would be a crowning achievement.
But a Fort Worth doctor who has done both isn’t resting on his laurels. Dr. Kent Brantly, who made worldwide news when he contracted -- and beat -- Ebola in 2014 while providing charity care in Africa, is headed back overseas to continue his Christian mission of healing others.
Brantly and his family plan to move to Zambia, according to The Christian Chronicle, an Oklahoma-based news organization for the Church of Christ that first reported on the doctor’s decision. He’ll work at a small hospital in an isolated part of the south-central African country.
For the last few years, Brantly, who works for John Peter Smith Hospital, where he did his residency, has been teaching and caring for patients in east Fort Worth. He and his wife, Amber, a nurse, and their 10-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son have lived here since his recovery. They are members of the Southside Church of Christ.
Ebola is a hellish virus. It causes massive internal hemorrhaging and has killed thousands in recent annual outbreaks in Africa. When a traveler brought the first case to the U.S., in Dallas, and infected two nurses, panic nearly erupted.
Brantly became infected treating patients in Liberia. (Zambia, where he’s headed, has never seen an Ebola outbreak since the virus was discovered in 1976.) And he was a trailblazer in fighting the disease. He was one of the first patients to receive ZMapp, an experimental drug designed to fight the virus, at a time when few remedies existed. His blood, with antibodies against the virus, was later used to help at least three other patients survive Ebola.
Brantly, now 38, has said that he suffers no physical aftereffects from his infection, which is not true for all Ebola survivors. Still, anyone would understand if he decided he had suffered enough for his causes.
That’s not Brantly’s way. He told The Christian Chronicle that his gratitude to God for saving his life prompts him to “live a life that is faithful to the calling he’s given me. ... to serve the poor and have compassion for the people in need and to participate in God’s work of making all things new and fixing the broken things in this world.”
So many suffering people depend on people like Brantly for a bit of relief. Few of us can match his dedication and willingness to serve even after suffering.
But all of us can take inspiration from his example, support his work and try to match his giving spirit at home.