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American Doctor With Ebola Described as 'Meticulous,' 'Strong Individual'

Dr. Kent Brantly is the first American to be diagnosed in this ebola outbreak.

ByABC News
July 27, 2014, 2:03 PM

— -- Dr. Kent Brantly may be fighting a deadly viral infection himself, but that hasn't stopped him from working to help others.

The 33-year-old American doctor, who was treating Ebola patients, was reported to be sitting up in his isolated hospital bed and working on his computer after he contracted the deadly virus this week.

Brantly, from Fort Worth, Texas, has been living and working in Monrovia, Liberia since last October, when he moved there with his wife and two young children as part of a post-residency program set up by Samaritan's Purse, a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization that aims to provide international aid.

"Kent's faith and our faith in the world is what sustains us at this time, and we are trusting that Kent is in the hands of a loving and faithful God," his mother, Jan Brantly said today.

Although Brantly specialized in general family care, after the Ebola outbreak reached Liberia he was given the job of overseeing care for infected patients as director for the organization's Ebola Consolidated Case Management Center, due to his detailed knowledge of protocol to safeguard health workers.

"He knew the CDC and WHO protocols for safety inside and out," Samaritan's Purse spokeswoman Melissa Strickland said. "He was very meticulous in following that and making sure the entire staff was following that. That was one of the reasons he was given that responsibility."

Strickland said Brantly's family happened to be on a trip to the U.S. when he became ill and were not exposed to the disease. Brantly first noticed his symptoms earlier this week and immediately quarantined himself, according to Strickland.

Before he was infected, Strickland confirmed that Brantly sometimes spent three hours treating patients in the clinic. It's a feat few doctors can manage since the medical gear they have to wear ends up becoming almost unbearably hot.

"The temperature inside those suits goes well above 100 degrees," Strickland said. "I wouldn't say that the three hours would be standard. That would be an extraordinary circumstance because of his incredible passion for the Liberian people."

Brantly was described as having a fever and being in pain, but still able to sit up in his isolated room.

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A graduate from the Indiana University School of Medicine, Brantly had just finished his residency at John Peter Smith Hospital in the family resident program before going to Liberia.

A spokesperson for JPS Health Network told ABC News many former residents specializing in family care go to rural or isolated places to provide care to those in need.

"One: We're stunned. Two: It's painful. But this is the kind of individual that he is," JPS Health Network President Robert Earley told ABC News affiliate WFAA-TV in Dallas. "They go into the worst situations in the world and try to save lives."

The World Health Organization reported that 1,093 people in three African countries have contracted the disease and 660 have died from it, as of July 20. The Ebola virus is spread through close contact between people, including bodily fluids and secretions, and health workers are one of the most at risk populations.

On Saturday, Dr. Samuel Brisbane, a senior doctor at Liberia's largest hospital, became the country's first doctor to die of Ebola.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.