Brantly addresses Ebola crisis during visit to ACU

Posted October 10, 2014

Dr. Kent Brantly and his wife, Amber, spoke to ACU Today editor Ron Hadfield for an interview conducted Friday, Oct. 10, on the Abilene Christian University campus while the Brantlys were in Abilene for ACU’s 2014 Homecoming celebration. Here are passages from that interview.

On the need to fight Ebola’s spread

I cannot overstate the urgency of the international response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. What the United States and other nations have committed to doing is wonderful, but if it is not done in a timely manner, if it is not done immediately, it will be too little.

There is no magic bullet to stop the Ebola virus.  It will take a multifaceted response.  We need more isolation units. We need more medical personnel to staff those isolation units. We have to intervene now in the communities, in the villages, in the towns to stop the transmission of this disease from those who are infected to their caregivers.  If the world does not respond adequately to this outbreak, we will all pay the price for it, but no one will pay a greater price than the people of West Africa.

Addressing the situation in Dallas

I have not had the opportunity to speak to the family of Mr. [Thomas] Duncan, who passed away in Dallas recently from the Ebola virus disease … I was asked by a doctor if I would be willing to donate blood for Mr. Duncan, and I was totally willing to do that. Unfortunately, Mr. Duncan and I had different blood types. That means that he could not receive my blood. … If I could speak to (the Duncan family), I would express my deepest sympathy. My heart is broken for them right now. I think the people in Dallas and the North Texas area have been asked, “Are people overreacting?” The truth is Ebola is a very serious disease. That's been evidenced in West Africa and here in the United States. It's a very serious disease for those who have it and for those who have come in contact with sick individuals.

But I want to be very clear that for someone who is not in contact with a person who is sick with Ebola, there is no risk. For those children who were living in the household with Mr. Duncan when he was ill – before he was cared for in the hospital – the playmates and classmates of those children are not at risk, because those children were not sick when they last were around their playmates and classmates.  For those people who are contacts of someone who is known to have Ebola, this is a very serious issue. We all need to be supporting those people, and those individuals need to be monitoring themselves and cooperating with the authorities and the CDC.

But the rest of us, we need to be praying for the people of West Africa, for the family members of Mr. Duncan and the other individuals in America who are being treated in Atlanta and Nebraska right now. We need to be finding practical ways to help in West Africa, not worrying that because we live 100 miles from a hospital that treated a patient that we're at risk.

On Kent’s decision to become a medical missionary

I decided to major in Bible at the end of my sophomore year here at ACU after I spent a semester at Study Abroad in Oxford. I took a couple of philosophy classes with Dr. Paul Morris and took a class called Christian Worship, where we spent a semester learning about and exploring the histories of Christian worship. I came away from that semester, those experiences, and the experiences of visiting different Christian traditions around Europe with a desire to use my time here at ACU to take advantage of the great professors, theologians, and biblical scholars that we had here to really dive deep into the Word of God. That's what I spent my time here doing: studying Scripture and learning the text of the Bible.

As I neared completion of my degree in biblical text, I also felt the Lord beginning to call me to serve him as a missionary. My degree in biblical text usually leads to preaching or teaching, and even though I received a great education at ACU, I felt ill-equipped to step into those roles. That was not the calling that God placed on my life. That was not the skill set I had, but as he called me to serve him as a missionary I knew I needed some tangible skills to serve people. As I took inventory of my skills, interests, and needs in the world, I decided I would try to go to medical school to use the tools of a physician to serve people in the name of Christ.

What’s next for the Brantlys?

People have asked me if or when I will go back to West Africa with my family, and the honest answer is I don't know when my family will be able to return to Liberia, but if and when we do, I don't think we would do anything different. We went there to serve the people of Liberia, to bring compassionate medical service to people in need, to share the love of Jesus Christ. We encountered Ebola, but that didn’t change our goals; that didn't change our mission; that didn’t change our purpose for being there. I don't think we would do anything differently.

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