Transcript for With American Ebola Patients' Recovery Comes New Hope
Tonight, two lucky Americans are celebrating a full recovery from ebola, the deadly contagion that has over 50,000 people under quarantine. As these survivors reunite with their loved ones, many are wondering if it was an experimental treatment that saved their lives. And could this new medicine hold the key to stopping their virus? Here's ABC's Steve osunsami. Today is a miraculous day. I'm thrilled to be alive, to be well, and be reunited with my family. Reporter: It feels like a miracle of medicine. Two American missionaries fighting one of the most deadly diseases on the planet, ebola. Today, doctors declared both of them healthy and virus-free. My dear friend, Nancy writebol, wanted me to share her gratitude for all of the prayers on her behave. As she walked out, all she could say was, to god be the glory. Reporter: Nancy's son, one of the many so glad her mom could come home. That was an emotional time. Dad told me about it. They hadn't been able to see each other for several weeks. She was able to come out of the bed and they put their hands together on the glass. One of those serene moments. Reporter: For the last three weeks, Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy writebol for fighting for their lives. A plane flew them to Atlanta. They had to recover in an isolation unit. Quarantined from the world. We had 5 physicians, 21 nurses who cared for these 2 patients during their hospitalization. Reporter: The doctors here worked around the clock with the best medical equipment available to keep them alive, while the families prayed for the best. Today, those prayers were answered. Doctors gave both patients a clean bill of health. There's no evidence that once a patient had cleared the virus from their blood that they will relapse. I am forever thankful to god for sparing my life. And I'm glad for any attention my sickness has attracted to the plight of west Africa in the midst of this epidemic. Reporter: With this amazing recovery comes new hope in an experimental treatment for the disease. Dr. Brantly and writebol are the first two patients to receive a serum called zmapp. It's an antibody serum, designed to help the body attack the ebola virus, speeding up the body's process of destroying the virus. But zmapp is totally untested and unproven. I think it's far too soon to say that this drug had anything to do with their cure. At this point, we don't know if the drug helped, if it hurt or had no effect whatsoever. That's why they have to study it. Reporter: While doctors in American have to figure out if the drug makes a difference, at the heart of the ebola yououtbreak, the epidemic is out of control. Ground zero, Liberia, where they could use the serum and a miracle. How do you feel about the idea that an experimental drug could be brought to Liberia. That would be wonderful. Right now, it's going to spread. Becoming an international problem. To have that and it's working, that would be wonderful for our people. I think it would be a good thing. It's, like, it's the better of two evils. You don't do it, people are going to die. Reporter: In Liberia, it doesn't look hopeful. Hospitals are few and full. This is what passing for bedside care, holding units for people sick with the disease. With few doctors struggling to find good and clean equipment, it's no wonder the virus is spreading. Ebola is highly contagious. It kills up to 90% of the people it infects. And spreads through contact of bodily fluids like blood, sweat, vomit. Symptoms begin with fever, vomiting and blood loss. Death comes quickly, often in days. Anyone who can survive it needs constant medical attention. And here, that's a rare commodity. Patients wait for hours, even days, to get treatment. Some will die right here. How do you feel about the fact that people have to wait outside because there's no capacity? That's a horrible feeling, to be a relative, to be a loved one, to be -- it's really nothing much we can do. We have a few mattresses. Going to put the people out in the hallway. If anything, I will see a doctor who will help me. Reporter: She has traveled to the holding unit with six children. She's lost her mother, husband, sister and brother to ebola. And now, her nephew is sick, too. I am with him right now. Because he's sick. You see? . Reporter: Health care workers here have become targets of violence and anger. Families blame them for spreading the disease or not doing more to control it. Angry residents even attack the unit. Forcing it to close. In this kind of epidemic that we're having, hospitals, should each have a holding unit. Does anyone have that in town? We do not have it here. Reporter: Two, new centers opened this week, workers are overwhelmed and undersupplied. There seems no end in sight to the suffering from this epidemic. I think if we really wanted to see a major difference in Africa, we would need to send over thousands of health care providers to be able to provide the care that these people really need. Reporter: Thousands of miles away, Dr. Brantly and Nancy writebol count their blessings. Tonight, they are reunited with their families and asking for prayers for this other side of the world. For "Nightline," I'm Steve osunsami, in Atlanta.
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