Kent Brantly, Samaritan's Purse American Doctor with Ebola, 'Is Improving,' Pastors Franklin Graham, Greg Laurie Urge Prayer

( [email protected] ) Aug 04, 2014 04:43 PM EDT
First Ebola American victim Dr. Kent Brantly
Ebola victim Dr. Kent Brantly, right, exits an ambulance with the help of another medical personnel at Emory University Hospital, Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014, in Atlanta.

As Christians around the United States pray for an American doctor infected with Ebola, the director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the doctor "seems to be improving."

"It's encouraging that he seems to be improving," Dr. Thomas Frieden said of Dr. Kent Brantly on CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday.

"That is really important, and we are hoping he will continue to improve."

Samaritan's Purse, a Christian charity led by Franklin Graham that employs Brantly, confirmed Sunday that the 33-year-old doctor received a dose of an experimental serum before leaving Liberia to head to the U.S.

"We praise God for the news that Kent's condition is improving," said a Sunday statement from the organization.

Brantly is currently being treated at Atlanta's Emory University Hospital, and is the first known patient infected with the virus to be treated in the United States.

Brantly, who has ties to Texas and Indiana, and Nancy Writebol of North Carolina, both became sick while caring for Ebola patients in Liberia, one of three West African nations hit by an outbreak

When the news of their illness broke, Christian leaders urged other followers to pray for the two aid workers:

"Be in prayer for Christian Dr. Kent Brantly who contracted the Ebola virus while treating patients in Liberia," wrote Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Crusade via Twitter.

"I urge you to continue praying for Kent, Nancy, their families, and the medical team who is caring for them," wrote Rev. Franklin Graham on Facebook.

Rev. Graham also thanked the Lord for Dr. Brantly's progress several days later:

"It was FANTASTIC to see Dr. Kent Brantly step out of that ambulance, walk into the hospital in Atlanta today! Praise God for answered prayer," he tweeted.

According to the Associated Press, Brantly's wife, parents and sister cried when they saw him on CNN walking from the ambulance into the hospital, another representative of Samaritan's Purse said on condition of anonymity.

On the organization's website, Brantly's wife Amber said she was grateful that her husband was back in the United States and was "confident that that he is receiving the very best care."  

"I was able to see Kent today. He is in good spirits," she said Sunday. "He thanked everyone for their prayers and asked for continued prayer for Nancy Writebol's safe return and full recovery.

Currently, Dr. Brantly is being treated in an isolation unit where everything is closely controlled.

While there is no FDA-approved treatment for Ebola, experts are encouraged by the progress Dr. Brantly has made after receiving the serum.

Bruce Johnson, president of SIM USA, a Christian mission organization, said Saturday that Brantly's condition seemed to be improving.  

"My last report (on Brantly) was yesterday. ... He was ambulatory, being able to talk, converse and get up. So that was encouraging," Johnson told Fox News on Saturday morning.

Concerning Writebol, Johnson said, "She's responsive, and we're encouraged at how she's doing."

Currently, Emory is using "supportive care" to treat the Ebola patients. That means carefully tracking a patient's symptoms, vital signs and organ function and taking measures, such as blood transfusions and dialysis, to keep patients stable.

"We just have to keep the patient alive long enough in order for the body to control this infection," said Unit Supervisor Dr. Bruce Ribner.

Regardless of what happens next, Brantly's family say they are trusting in God's faithfulness.

"Even with this past week's horrendous news of Kent's exposure & contraction of the Ebola virus, we have seen & witnessed two incredible things - the power of God who acts on behalf of His people and the love of God's people poured out on Kent's & our families," they wrote in a statement given to Brantly's home church, Southern Hills Church of Christ.

"...We believe Kent will be healed and that healing will come from the hand of God.  To say thank you is SO inadequate for what we're feeling!  We are humbled & simply, blown away by the response."