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Dr. Rick Sacra, American Missionary Healed from Ebola Thanks God, Says He Will Return To Africa

( [email protected] ) Sep 26, 2014 11:23 AM EDT

Dr. Rick Sacra
Dr. Rick Sacra views Africa as a ''second home'' 

SIM missionary Dr. Rick Sacra praised God for his miraculous recovery from Ebola as he left the isolation unit at Nebraska hospital on Thursday.

"God has used you to restore my life to me," the 51-year-old Sacra said, thanking his doctors at a Thursday morning news conference at The Nebraska Medical Center. "I am so grateful."

The 51-year-old from Worcester, Massachusetts, contracted Ebola while working with SIM, a North-Carolina based charity. He was treating patients in an obstetrics clinic in Monrovia and was not working directly with Ebola patients. He said that he does not know how he became infected with the virus but that it's possible one of the women he helped had the disease.

Sacra began steadily improving after arriving in Omaha on September 5, reports CNN, and has now fully recovered.

According to the World Health Organization, the Ebola virus has killed more than 2,900 people in West Africa and is expected to reach 1.4 million by January. The United States has promised to send 3,000 soldiers to the region to help as the West African governments experience difficulty in containing the disease.

Sacra is the third American missionary to contract the deadly disease; Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol were treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta and released after contracting Ebola while working in Liberia.

According to Dr. Phil Smith, Sacra received an experimental Tekmira Pharmaceuticals drug called TKM-Ebola for a week after he arrived in Omaha. He was also given two blood transfusions from friend Dr. Brantly, which experts believe were crucial to Sacra's recovery as survivor's blood carries antibodies for the disease.

I never felt like I was not going to make it," he said. "The care was so excellent, so speedy, so prompt, that I'm just thanking God for that."

Sacra also thanked everyone around the world who had prayed for him during his time of need and asked for more prayers and practical health for the people of West Africa.

"The Ebola crisis continues to spin out of control," he said.

He and his wife will return home soon, where Sacra said he hopes to take his dog for a long walk. He knows his recovery will move slowly, as Brantly told him to "be patient." However, he anticipates eventually returning to Arica--a place he calls his second home.