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Family of US Doctor Kent Brantly Infected With Ebola Trusting God for Healing

( [email protected] ) Jul 29, 2014 02:30 PM EDT

Kent Brantly
Doctor Kent Brantly, who volunteered to fight Ebola in the African country of Liberia is pictured with his son and wife. (Reuters)

The family of a Samaritan's Purse doctor who recently contracted Ebola in Africa say they are trusting in God for a miracle of healing.

Kent Brantly, a 33-year-old doctor who volunteered to fight deadly the deadly disease at a clinic in Liberia following his hospital residency in Texas, is reportedly fighting for his life after contracting the disease.  

"We're just trusting God for his life," the physician's mother, Jan Brantly, said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press. "We're praying, and we're sustained by our faith."

Brantly, who is the medical director of the Ebola center run by Samaritan's Purse in Liberia's capital of Monrovia, and Nancy Writebol, a worker at the center, are being treated there. They are each married with two children, the group said. The doctor's family is in the U.S. while the whereabouts of Writebol's family haven't been released.

"He was prepared to be a medical missionary, and that's what he has chosen to do with his life," Jan Brantly said of her son yesterday. "He and his wife have always had that plan and that dream."

Brantly has kept in communication with his wife, who left with their 3-year-old and 5-year-old children before Kent Brantly showed any symptoms, McRay said.

"She's terrified, and yet hopeful and prayerful, shares her husband's deep faith and deep resolve," McRay said. "They have no doubts and no regrets about their decision."

Since March, over 672 people in four West African nations have died from Ebola. This most recent wave marks the worst outbreak since the virus was first reported in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976.

The horrific disease, which has a 90% mortality rate and has no known cure, is transmitted from wild animals including chimpanzees, gorillas and bats, according to the Geneva-based WHO. However, the risk of travelers contracting Ebola is considered low because it requires direct contact with bodily fluids or secretions such as urine, blood, sweat or saliva, experts say. Ebola can't be spread like flu through casual contact or breathing in the same air.

Nigeria reported its first case last week after an infected Liberian man landed in Lagos, Africa's largest city. Liberia has shut all minor border crossings and is setting up testing centers at major entry points, AllAfrica.com reported, citing a government statement.

During his residency, Brantly spoke often of his calling to serve as a doctor in developing parts of the world, said David McRay, the director of maternal child health at JPS Health Network.

"He worked hard, long hours to do what he was doing, he sought the difficult patients, the difficult situations," McRay said yesterday by phone from Fort Worth, Texas. "Wherever there was need, Kent wanted to be there."

According to Melissa Strickland, a spokesperson for Samaritan's Purse, Brantley is  hopeful for the future despite his condition.

"It's easy to figure out what kind of person volunteers to take on this mission. He's a highly skilled professional, he's courageous, he's compassionate," she told the Associated Press.

"He's very hopeful and praying for his recovery but he's also very knowledgeable about the course of his illness," added McRay, after speaking yesterday with Brantly.

Samaritan's Purse, a nonprofit religious organization founded in 1970, has had offices in Liberia for more than a decade. The group, with 374 people working on Ebola in Liberia, runs case management centers in Foya and Monrovia. The Monrovia Center Brantly ran has 20 beds and is caring for 14 patients, according to its website.

In recent surveys by Samaritan's Purse, 84 percent of 2,920 Monrovia residents surveyed said they didn't believe Ebola was real, according to the group's website.