American Ebola Patients Released From Hospital

Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol are going home after three weeks of treatment at Emory University Hospital.
46:40 | 08/21/14

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Transcript for American Ebola Patients Released From Hospital
On July 23 doctor Kent Bradley woke up feeling ill less than 72 hours later tests confirmed his initial diagnosis. The doctor had contracted Ebola from the patients he was treated in Liberia. The doctor had become a patient himself he was flown to Atlanta's Emory hospital on August 2 and today. After nearly three weeks of treatment both Brantley and Nancy rightful another American health worker diagnosed and flown to Emory for treatment. Are going home hello I'm Michelle Franzen New York. Back from the break and in just a few minutes we'll hear from doctor Kent Bradley -- at a news conference. At Emory hospital Nancy rightful not expected to be present though she too has been declared virus free. And discharged. And we're joined now from Atlanta by ABC's Steve -- -- -- -- both doctor Brantley and -- rightful are being discharged. But does not mean that they are entirely out of the woods when it comes to their hell. Well the doctors are telling us that -- could suffer joint pain knee pain. Possibly for up to a year but that. The most serious illnesses that they were suffering is is over that the incubation period for this disease is about three weeks and that there right now. Not presenting any symptoms and because of that they are no danger to themselves or their family it takes. Contact the bodily bodily fluids wallop person is infected to spread this disease. So you mentioned -- that incubation. Period has passed do we know what kind of care they will receive going forward. We haven't heard what type of care they'll be receiving but no doubt I would expect -- University hospital doctors here to keep monitoring this -- And their extended. Stanley making sure just -- -- -- out of an abundance of precaution that no one has gotten sick. And both right -- Brantley were treated with an experimental drug called -- map for doctors at Emory crediting. That drug for they -- quick recovery. There is some disagreement in the medical community about the effectiveness of that drug there are. Some people including some of their doctors and especially -- people connected to their missionary who believe that drug made a huge difference both of them received. More than one or two doses but. We're also hearing from some medical professionals who say that they were just getting better on their own and so. It's not clear just how effective that drug laws and give us an idea between the difference that -- the physical health between. Brantley and right ball and how that may -- Played a role in their recovery. Well he's much younger he's much younger than she is he's in his thirties and she's in her fifties I believe and so. That played a difference. He was able to walk. Himself with some assistance. Into the hospital when he was admitted here. On Nancy rifle was brought in on a stretcher her situation was much more serious he was -- much more serious condition but. They both recovered. Not about 40%. Of people who come down with Ebola. Survive and their family and and the missionaries behind them were of course hoping they would be part of that 40% that appears to be the -- and -- even -- -- controversy or. As sort of divide between that experimental drug at the map is there any suggestion that there could be more effort to get the drug to patients in Africa. You know they're there there's been a lot of talk of about that but I think it's too early to tell as I understand that the drug is still being. Developed and -- stand and and and I don't know that it's gotten that far that the production of the drug manufacturing of it has gotten that far to -- -- be distributed. In -- and that way. ABC -- -- in Atlanta thank you very much for joining. Wanna take you live right now that news conference in a moment but first of all the wanna go to -- canady. In Washington DC. But -- -- we heard from doctor Brantley what's the latest from Nancy rifles missionary group about her plants going forward. The initiative that she worked for at -- -- and certainly not discussing the exact location. Where she'll be going where she is recovering their certainly requesting privacy for the family. Hoping and that she can have some time to reconnect with her husband to reconnect with her children who've been here in the US. Whom she has had to -- quite a distance from four. All of these many weeks while she's been battling this disease. But we do know the organization has -- says that they are just thrilled. And so relieved that she seems to -- made a good recovery. I would be listening in at the press conference to find out a little bit more about just. Just how well. The two American aid workers are feeling. Obviously. They're not showing any active -- symptoms of the virus were they would not be allowed to be released but we hear from me bullet. As survivors that sometimes there are lingering symptoms and so recovery can actually be. A very difficult thing that could take years some evil of survivors have reported things for example such as. A joint pain or are other types of aches and pains that they may be dealing with for some time so it. All of that part of the reason -- that both of these US aid workers are asking for privacy and just some time. To be with their families. And sort of get re integrated as well back into the US that's a big change for them. To come from working and living abroad for many years. In rural area -- and and to being the backing US society. And before we get to that press conference has three. Go back a little bit what was the latest on the ground in West Africa Liberia -- particular. Short really it is a frightening situation on the ground there in West Africa at three countries that really. But the epicenter of this outbreak Liberia Sierra Leone and Guinea so there -- some good news coming out of Guinea where it's believed. That they are getting ahead of the outbreak just a little bit. But not such good news coming out of Sierra -- and especially out of Liberia and just this week there was a report of write it. At a school that was being used as an isolation ward for Ebola patients. That some some residents. -- who obviously just didn't believe. Went into into the clinic and raided the clinic and this happened just after that clinic -- -- -- Some much needed medical supplies and all -- -- surprising he disappeared in this rate. And at the same time -- those Ebola patients ran away. Not escape the isolation -- clinic possibly ran for their -- -- threatened by the protesters. And so they had to work to try to find those patients and big concern now about who else those patients had contact with. After -- -- they escaped the isolation ward. And all of this was happening in eight and a dense crowded Islam tens of thousands of people and the liberian government now has had to quarantined trying to quarantine. That entire gigantic -- And still doing -- much outreach using military using police. And and really. Still begging for all the help that it can get from the international community. In terms. Medical experts. -- supplies. To try. To get a handle on the outbreak and of course this humanitarian effort very huge ongoing from the beginning. What -- we heard from officials -- samaritans purse the organization the doctor Brantley was working with are they planning to keep on with their work. They are they are it's very interesting at no time since it was announced these two American aid workers. And I came down with a bowl -- at no time was there any mention. That the work that they are doing that's so important would stop they did evacuate. In non essential personnel. But they have samaritans purse has to 350. Staff members. Most of them local liberians. Still working there but but some ex pat workers as well. Who are staying there doing their best to continue to battle this crisis because they just believe so much in the mission. And let's talk a little bit about the experimental drugs that both doctor Brantley as well as rightful received its busy map what can you tell us about this experimental drug. And the potential that it could be used in Africa where it's needed. It really interesting there -- actually hearing about a couple different experimental drugs that could be coming on the market. As soon not soon enough really is what we're hearing from doctors. So one of them as you mentioned is Z Mac that's getting a lot of attention because. It was given to these two US aid workers and there were reports that came out that they they showed some degree of recovery some conflicting reports. About what level of recovery and how fast that exactly happened after they got busy map. That's something we will be keenly interested to hear at the press conference today perhaps doctor Brantley will speak. For himself about. His recovery after -- map and and provides more information on that. But. We know about this -- math it treatment that it is only experimental. -- it was the first time it ever been used in human beings when -- it was given to these American aid workers and there's just not a lot of the drug. The company that makes a drug has since also given doses. 23 -- -- in health care workers. Their reports that those health care workers are showing signs of improvement as well so there's a lot of hope. For this drug but the company says -- -- out there's just no more to go around it takes a long time to actually make this drug it was. Still a long time a year or more away from productions and they just don't have more. To help immediately in this outbreak another interesting thing that -- has been reported recently is that. Another company that's been working on cable -- for some years has a vaccine. That they're working on -- has shown. It's proved to be very effective. In testing on animals. And so that's something that's giving people a lot of hope but again. Only in animals not tested in humans so there's a lot a lot of time that we'll have to wait before we believe that their actual movie. Useful drugs on the market. Well let's listen in to doctors right now. -- infectious diseases unit at Emory university hospital. Sorry. I lead the team of doctors. Nurses. Laboratory technologists. Chaplin's. And many others who have cared for doctor Brantley and -- rightful. -- patients who were treated and Emory university hospital for Ebola Virus disease. Today at least announce. That doctor Brantley. Is being discharged from the hospital. -- After rigorous course of treatment. And there attesting -- We have determined. In conjunction with the centers for disease control and state health departments. The doctor Brantley has recovered from the Ebola Virus infection. And that he can return to his family. To his community and to his life. Without public health concerns. The second patient -- right goal. Was discharged this past Tuesday August 19. The medical staff here at Emory is confident. That the discharge from the hospital of both of these patients. Poses no public health threat. The hospital is respecting this is right -- wishes for privacy at that time. So we will not be making any further comments about her clinical course. Speaking on behalf of every -- at -- We are tremendously pleased. With doctor Brantley. And this is right -- Recovery. And we are profoundly grateful. For the opportunity to have applied our training. Our care and our experience. To meeting their needs. All of us who have worked of them have been impressed. By their courage and determination. Their hope and faith have been an inspiration to all of us. In addition. Both of the patients' families. Provided tremendous support. Throughout this treatment process. Their dedication devotion. Has strengthened us as well as the patience. Limited knowledge of the Ebola Virus. Especially in our country. Has created understandable anxiety. And fear for some patients purses. We understand that there are a lot of questions. And concerns. Regarding Ebola Virus and the infection that causes. Haven't we cannot let our fears. Dictate our actions. We must all care. As great for those we are today and our work is far from over. We are very mindful. Of all of those in West Africa. Who are still fighting for their lives. Against this threat and those who are caring for them putting their own lives in danger. It was the right decision. To bring these patients back to Emory for treatment. What we learned in caring for them. We'll help advance the world's understanding. Of how to treat Ebola Virus infections. And help hopefully. To improve survival in parts of the world where patients for this infection are treated. At -- our mission. Is to -- And to advance. Knowledge. The team of professionals with me here today has changed for years. To treat and contain the most dangerous infectious diseases in the world. We are grateful. For the successful outcome in this case. But we are never going to be taking success for granted. Three other critically important. Partners who have helped us throughout this episode. Deserve recognition today. Our neighbors the Centers for Disease Control. The food and drug administration. And the state epidemiologist. Of Georgia and North Carolina. I will be taking your questions has -- -- dollar said. But before doing so doctor Brantley. Has requested to make a brief statement. And -- -- dollar said. -- doctor Bradley will not be taking any questions following his statement. So I ask that you respect his wishes. And save your questions for me. And for the other members of our health care -- thank you. Today. Is a miraculous day. I'm thrilled to be alive. To be well. And to be reunited with multifamily. As a medical missionary. I never imagined myself in this position. When my family and I moved to Liberia last October. To begin a two year term working with samaritans purse. -- was not on the radar. We moved to -- up -- -- because god called us to serve the people of Liberia. In March when we got word that -- that was in Guinea and had spread to Liberia. We began preparing for the worst. We did not receive our first people patient until June. But when she arrived we were ready. During the course of June and July the number of Ebola patients increased steadily. And are amazing crew en -- hospital. Took care each patient with great care and compassion. We also took every precaution to protect ourselves from this dreaded disease but following him -- and WH of guidelines for safety. After taking amber and our children to the airport to return to the states on Sunday morning July 20. I poured myself and -- my work even more than before. Transferring patients to our new -- isolation unit training and -- -- news staff. And working with our human resources officer to -- staffing needs. Three days later on Wednesday July 23. I woke up feeling under the weather. And in my life took an unexpected turn. As I was diagnosed with Ebola Virus disease. As -- -- in my bed in Liberia for the following nine days. Getting sicker and weaker each day. I prayed that god help me be faithful. Even in my moments. And I prayed that in my life. Or in my death. That he would be glorified. I did not know them but have learned sense. That there were thousands. Maybe even millions of people around the world praying for me throughout that week and even still today. And I've heard story after story. Of how the situation has impacted the lives of individuals around the globe. Both among my friends and -- handling. And also among complete strangers. I cannot think you enough. For your prayers and your support. But what I can tell you. Is that I serve -- faithful god who answers prayers. Through the care of the samaritans purse and -- -- missionary team in Liberia. The use of an experimental drug. And expertise and resources of the health care team at Emory university hospital. God save my life. The direct answer to thousands and thousands of prayers. I'm incredibly thankful to all of those who were involved in my care from the first day of my illness. All the way up to today the day of my release from Emory. If I tried to think everyone -- would undoubtedly forget many. But I would be remiss if I did not say thank you to a few. I want to think samaritans purse. Who's taking care of me and my family. As though we were their own family. Thank you to the samaritans purse and SI am -- community. You cared for me and ministered to me during most difficult experience of my life. And you did so with the love and mercy of Jesus Christ. Think -- at Emory university hospital and especially. To the medical staff and isolation. You treated me with expertise. Yet with such tenderness and compassion. For the last three weeks. You -- them my friends and multifamily. And so many of you have ministered to -- not only physically but also spiritually. Which has been an important part of my recovery. I will not forget you. And all you've done for me. And thank you to my family. My friends. My church family. And all he lifted me up and prayer asking for my healing and recovery. Please do not stop praying for the people of Liberia and West Africa -- for a quick end this Ebola epidemic. My dear friend Nancy rightful upon her release from the hospital. Wanted me to share her gratitude. For all the prayers on her behalf. -- she walked out of her isolation room. All she could say was to god be the glory. Mean team David are now spending some much needed time -- -- it. Thank you for your support throughout this whole ordeal. My family and I will now be going away. For a period of time to reconnect. Decompress. And to continue to recover physically and emotionally. After ever covered a little more in regained some -- strength. We will look forward to sharing more of our story. But for now we need some time to get off after more than a month apart. We appreciate having the opportunity to spend some time in private before talking to some of you who have expressed an interest in hearing more of our journey. Thank you for granting us that. Again. Before we slip out. I want to express my deep and sincere gratitude to samaritans purse. -- -- Emory and all the people involved in my treatment and care. Above all I am forever thankful to god for steering my life. And I'm glad for any attention might sickness has attracted. To the plight of West Africa in the midst of this epidemic. Please. Continue to pray for Liberia. And the people of West Africa. And encouraged those in positions of leadership. And influence to do everything possible. To bring its Ebola outbreak to -- -- Yeah. At this time doctor -- we'll take. Questions from the news media please note we have a moderated call in lines -- questions here we're going to. We're going to call -- excuse me answer the call -- questions. All right. That. -- Determined to save the Ramsey is right -- desperate call. I don't know cut it. We determined it was safe. To release patience. OK so the decision without revealing. Privileged patients' confidential information the decision to. Discharge any patient with the Ebola Virus disease. It's basically done on a case by case basis. The CDC will actually be having. A press release that they're going to be putting out I understand simultaneous with this. But the the standard World Health Organization and CDC guidelines that have been used in the Third World. Have been absence of virus in the blood. And patient -- -- approved for at least two to three days. -- -- Oh. What is life left after Ebola while. I won't get into the psychic aspects in term of the medical aspects. We do not anticipate there there may be. Some recovery time because this is a fairly devastating -- But we would anticipate that in. In general. Most patients if they have not had any substantial. Organ damage we'll make a complete recovery. Explain. What. One you. You. What was the turning point know how I felt. How I felt this -- question OK so that's not releasing patient information. As I think I told many in this audience. Three weeks ago now. We were very hopeful. That. With the level of support we can deliver at our facility. That we would have a substantially better outcome. And our colleagues practicing with lesser developed health care systems. Having said that however. Once it became too clear to us that both of our patience we're going to recover. And recover with very little residual. There was a pretty gratifying feeling amongst all of us. In -- business dating game. It's like. News hear her. A case the question is how well our success help our colleagues. Treating patients in the outbreak going on in my -- -- now. I would say -- the major. Thing that we will help them -- it is they suffer. A substantially lack of infrastructure. And we did learn a number of things in terms of caring for these patients in terms of fluid and -- late replacement. In terms. Clotting abnormalities and so on which frankly. Our colleagues in Africa don't have the capability to detect. And so we are in the process of developing several guidelines which will be disseminated. To the practitioners in Africa saying you know. Even if you can't measure this this is something we found and there are things you can do even if you can't measure to try and improve the outcomes in your patience. Your state your affiliation please. OK so -- question number one is are we surprised at the rapid recovery they made. Think the honest answer is we didn't know. There has been very limited. Experience. With -- With treating patients -- Ebola Virus disease in developed countries. So we frankly didn't know what to expect. We were very gratified as I said before. But conversely. We we always suspected. That. We had a good chances helping these patients survive. In terms of immunity. All indications and again. -- Ebola Virus -- -- new infection on this continent. But our colleagues across the ocean have been dealing with it for forty years now. And so there is strong epidemiological. Evidence. That once an individual has resolved Ebola Virus infection. They are immune to that strange. Recognizing that there are five different strains of Ebola Virus but all of the evidence from Africa is that once an individual has recovered. They are immune to that -- -- -- -- -- Figured out what plus we'll. Exposure. How do. Okay so question number one is. What role did any experimental agents play in the recovery of these two patients. Okay. Okay how I feel. Firstly I can't comment on any treatment they received at -- but I know from reading the media. That these two individuals did receive an experimental preparations. In Liberia before coming to us. An experimental -- is exactly that. They are the very first individuals -- -- -- this agent there is no prior experience with it and frankly we do not know. Whether it helped them. Whether it made no difference or even theoretically if it delayed their recovery. And -- services question that us. OK so the question is epidemiological. Doctor Brantley and that's right -- have told you that they're not aware of any exposures that they had occupational they. And so we know that there were obviously lots of individuals they were coming -- -- keep in contact with Liberia with who ultimately did head Ebola Virus disease and in some cases and fortunate. -- died. But other than that. To best of my knowledge there is no discrete exposure that anybody is aware of I'm sure gonna work my way around here. We're. Okay so question number one -- is are we aware. Are we concerned about any long term sequentially. From any biological preparations. That they may have received in their medical care that we know they received in Liberia and the honest answer is once again these are experimental agents. We just -- not now. We know that. Based on other therapies which are similar to this. There are a limited number of long term -- quell layers side effects from this but we're. Obviously because this is a very early stage agent we have no idea. And to serve as a second. What was your second question again. -- nutrition OK so the question is whether there nutritional status. Improve their outcomes and and clearly. For any acutely ill patient. Nutritional status is extremely important so yes. If you have somebody -- is well nourished and you have somebody who is poorly nourished. And they suffered the same illness infectious or otherwise. The person -- it is better nutrition has a better survival -- outlook. A case of the question is why did we not release -- of -- -- Tell the public that we had discharged -- -- -- the honest answer is because she requested that. And like any patient that we care -- in our health care facility. Our primary concern is respecting the desires of the patient. And again since -- in conjunction with our partners. Knew that she represented no health risk to the public. We did not think it was a public health reason to do that. -- OK so the question is what role did our special isolation role unit play in the care of these patients and as we've been up front and saying. It was a convenient place to place these patients because. We had already developed policies and procedures but. As our colleagues down the street have been repeatedly reminding individuals you don't need. A special unit to take care of patients with the Ebola Virus disease he -- standard health care. Transmission based precautions to prevent the spread. In this case a virus to health care workers and other patients and visitors. And this does not require a specialty unit any hospital on a daily basis. This practicing this level of precautions for many other infectious diseases that they treat. -- all right there now -- leave -- -- you visited your -- Didn't offices. You. Here at zoo. Okay so the question is where is the -- in these patients well again to the extent that we've tested. There is no evidence of Ebola Virus infection in their bodies. And -- general. Not -- but the general experience with patients in Africa is once they have survived. Especially this far into the disease. They are not contagious. They don't. As a general rule relapse. And they don't spread virus to anyone else. Here. We have no evidence for carrier state in this disease. In the back. Her. So the question is if there is a high mortality rate how do we know what happens to people who survived were again. You have to figure that even though for example in this outbreak we have had almost 8000 fatalities. We have had almost a thousand survivors. And is similarly in other outbreaks even the ones with higher mortality rates there still are. Many several hundred people who survive in each one of these outbreaks and they have been extensively followed both by the CDC assisting local governments in Africa. And so we have a fair amount of data in terms. How they view after discharge and as they resolve their infections. And we. Know there are no evidence there is no evidence that once a patient has cleared the virus from their blood that they were relapse. -- Where they won't play. -- -- Occasions violence there and I. In this case. So there is an observation which I have also read in the media. That doctor Brantley received a blood transfusion from an individual who had recovered from Ebola Virus disease. I think the most honest answer we can give as we have no idea how if at all that impacted his outcome. Area. Okay. OK so the question is. Would there -- any concerns. About -- -- patients returning to care for patients with the Ebola Virus disease in Liberia. And what restrictions if any we would place on them. Assuming that they continue to make a normal recovery. And I think you can appreciate doctor Brantley is pretty far along. There would be no concerns and as I think I mentioned previously to another question there. In fact. The likelihood is we would anticipate immunity to this virus. So that they would. Probably not be at risk for infection if they were caring for patients with the Ebola Virus disease during this outbreak. Now again verified strains of Ebola Virus. Be -- best protection is against that strain. There is much limited did much less data on protection against the strains but the the the feeling is that it's not as complete as for the -- that you've been infected with. Okay sound question number one that is. Just sort of globally I guess. What are the roles for the experimental -- chemotherapy. And biological products which jarrah. In earliest stages of development for treatment of Ebola Virus disease. And obviously with the disease that is this lethal and especially with a large numbers it's impacting in West Africa. There is a crying need for research on these agents. A man and I know that there are discussions. Between the food and drug administration and various companies. In terms of trying to get these types of studies made. And opposite question dispute. -- Right. So there there have been some very limited studies. Suggesting that in males. The virus may remain in -- for up to several months. Again we did not test -- patient for that we did not think that was a concern given that that's not likely mode of transmission and more importantly again. We have very good epidemiology data. From many survivors in Africa over the last forty years. Suggesting that this is not a mode of transmission to other individuals. So generous to me no way. -- -- -- -- -- Can be. So the question is what future plans is Emory university hospital have for treating additional patients with the Ebola Virus disease. And the answer is we. As in this case determine it on a case by case basis. If we feel that there is somebody in Africa who would benefit. From -- care. And that's not available to them overseas. And there are well enough to survive a very long transportation process. We would certainly consider that. -- -- OK so the question is -- -- -- the FDA. We were in constant communication with the FDA has to what biological thousand vaccines might be appropriate. Two assist these patients in their survival. -- -- -- at Emory hospital you can continue watching the stream live. I wanna bring back in -- canady in Washington DC who's been watching and monitoring this with me. A lot happening of course with doctor Kent Bradley walking -- and again thanking. The staffers around -- that took good care of him in intensive care. Give me an idea we saw him hug. One by one health care professionals what sort of message do you think they were also try to -- I think absolutely they were sending a message about. It just how much that they believe and they want to let people in that society no. That these patients are safe and that they are located go back to their lives in back to their communities. They don't want people to have a lot of concern about that over West Africa we've seen -- -- survivors often be shunned in their communities because people largest. Still so afraid of them and afraid that -- would still be able to. Transmit the disease but the medical experts here say that's just not possible they do not believe that's possible in this case. All of the testing they've done the blood testing has shown. That these two -- workers no longer have the virus in their system and there's no evidence that there are risks to their communities. And doctor -- Brantley of course thinking. The staffers around him but also. Saying that he it was his faith but also got him through these moments doctors. In addition -- holding a press conference afterwards I was struck by the fact of about how little doctors -- still that they need to learn about this disease. He had been doctor there from Emory hospital who is leading the care in the treatment of these two American aid workers actually said. You know that there was a benefit that he believes it -- the right thing to do to bring them here and that there is a benefit to having him here because. They're getting some experience. In how to treat Ebola patients which -- he said we really just don't half. And I hear in developed countries so he's -- hopeful that some of the things they've learned. About treating these patients could help others could may be help other cases that could come our way in the future. Or could be helpful back in Africa where this disease. On occasion it has been popping up. But he -- in Washington thank you very much for joining us. You can keep up with this story and real time by downloading the ABC news happens star in this story for exclusive updates on the go. For now I'm Michelle Franzen in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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