Nancy Writebol, one of two U.S. citizens airlifted from Liberia to Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital after contracting Ebola, was released Tuesday morning after testing free of the deadly virus, WSOC-TV reports.
The hospital held a news conference on Thursday to talk about the release of Writebol and of the other American, Dr. Kent Brantly. Brantly, who was released from the hospital today, made a statement at the news conference.
"I am thrilled to be alive, to be well and to be reunited with my family. As a medical missionary I never imagined myself in this position," Brantly said during the press conference, according to CBS.
“After a rigorous course of treatment and testing, the Emory health care team has determined that both patients have recovered from the Ebola virus and can return to their families and community without concern for spreading this infection to others,” Dr. Bruce Ribner, director of Emory’s Infectious Disease Unit, said, according to WSOC-TV.
The news site noted that the patients were discharged after blood and urine diagnostic tests and other infectious-disease protocol standards were taken into consideration. The patients were determined to no longer be a threat to the general public.
“The Emory health care team is extremely pleased with Dr. Brantly’s and Mrs. Writebol's recovery and was inspired by their spirit and strength, as well as by the steadfast support of their families,” Ribner added.
Writebol’s husband, David, released a statement celebrating his wife’s recovery. “Nancy joined the ranks of a small, but hopefully growing number of survivors of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) when she walked out of the Emory University Hospital Isolation Unit on Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 19. She had been in isolation fighting the disease since July 26. Nancy is free of the virus, but the lingering effects of the battle have left her in a significantly weakened condition. Thus, we decided it would be best to leave the hospital privately to be able to give her the rest and recuperation she needs at this time,” David Writebol said in the statement.
“It is hoped that the things the doctors and researchers have learned as a result of Nancy’s illness will be applied to the saving of many lives,” he added.
The recoveries could signal hope for new methods of treating the often fatal virus, which is responsible for more than 1,000 deaths so far in West Africa. Liberia, where the two were working before contracting the virus themselves, is the most heavily affected country in the region, with more than 500 deaths. Both Americans received the experimental drug Zmapp, but, Ribner said, “Frankly, we do not know whether it helped them, whether it made no difference or whether it theoretically delayed their recovery,” CBS reports.