TORONTO – He went to West Africa to save lives and while helping patients battling Ebola, Dr. Kent Brantly became infected.
But he’s still putting others before himself: this week, a single dose of experimental serum to treat the deadly virus arrived in Liberia, and Brantly insisted that it be used on his colleague who also tested positive.
Two American health care workers – Brantly and his teammate Nancy Writebol – are fighting the Ebola virus. While Writebol received the serum that could help to wipe out the infection, Brantly is relying on a blood transfusion from a patient he cured.
“Yesterday, an experimental serum arrived in the country, but there was only enough for one person. Dr. Brantly asked that it be given to Nancy Writebol,” Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse, said in a statement.
“However, Dr. Brantly received a unit of blood from a 14-year-old boy who had survived Ebola because of Dr. Brantly’s care. The young boy and his family wanted to be able to help the doctor that saved his life,” the statement read.
Samaritan’s Purse has been providing emergency response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa for months. Now it’s focusing its efforts on evacuating all but the “most essential personnel” to their home countries. The organization says the evacuation should be complete by this weekend.
Both victims are in stable but grave condition. Brantly took a “slight turn for the worse overnight,” according to the statement.
WATCH: The CDC is warning travelers not to go to the West Africa nations affected by the growing Ebola outbreak
Last week, Brantly noticed he had symptoms and isolated himself immediately. The family doctor was in Liberia in a post-residency program. His wife and two kids were living with him but headed back to the U.S. for a wedding before he started to show signs of illness.
Samaritan’s Purse isn’t saying what the experimental serum is, but there is a drug Canadian scientists are working on. Tekmira, one Canadian company, is working on using small bits of genetic material called RNA. The material would cling onto the virus and target it for destruction, according to NBC News.
But right now it’s on a temporary hold as the drug makers work through safety concerns.
Ebola haemorrhagic fever (EHF) is marked by the sudden onset of intense weakness, fever, muscle pain, sore throat and headaches.
Victims’ symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, multi-system organ failure, and internal and external bleeding. In its final stages, some patients bleed from their eyes, nose, ears, mouth or rectum.
READ MORE: What you need to know about Ebola
Ebola isn’t easily transmissible. It spreads from person to person by direct contact with blood, bodily fluids or the corpse of an infected person.
– With files from the Associated Press
© Shaw Media, 2014