Ebola-Infected American SIM Missionary Nancy Writebol Returns to U.S., Family Keeping Faith

( [email protected] ) Aug 05, 2014 08:36 PM EDT
Nancy Writebol, Second American Ebola Patient
Nancy Writebol pictured with husband David (Photo: Samaritan's Purse)

Nancy Writebol, the second American Ebola patient, has arrived at the Atlanta hospital Tuesday for treatment as Africa continues to battle the deadliest outbreak in history.

After being given an experimental serum, the infected missionary was taken from Liberia to Emory University Hospital in Georgia by air ambulance, which also transported Dr. Kent Brantly on Saturday.

"Nancy is still very weak" but has shown signs of improvement," says Bruce Johnson, president of Christian mission group SIM USA, with which Writebol worked.

"Her husband told me Sunday her appetite has improved, and she requested one of her favorite dishes-Liberian potato soup-and coffee," he added.  

The 59 year old missionary was treating patients infected with Ebola when she contracted the disease.

Since August 2013, Writebol and her husband have been in Monrovia, Liberia with the Serving in Mission's group, which worked with Samaritan's Purse, a Christian charity led by Pastor Franklin Graham.

Writebol guided missionaries and teams and worked with nurses at ELWA hospital, where her husband is the technical services manager, according to the Christian group's website.

Friends of Writebol say she is motivated nmot by any quest for personal glory, but because she feels called to be a missionary due to her faith in Christ.

Her husband explained from Africa via Skype to members of Calvary Church in Charlotte, NC at a recent prayer service for his wife: "We have been blessed because of what Christ has done for us, by giving us eternal life and salvation. What else could we do but help?"

John Munro, the Writebol's pastor and friend, describes the couple as the "salt of the earth," and an "unassuming" and "very humble" woman.

"She is...not someone who would ever make the headlines," Munro said, "apart from something like this."

Currently, Western Africa is experiencing the worst Ebola outbreak in history. The World Health Organization reports that there have been at least 1, 322 cases in recent weeks, and 729 have resulted in death.

Writebol's son, Jeremy, says he takes comfort in the fact that his mother has returned to the U.S. for "top notch" care.

"We feel like Mom has a chance, he told CNN affiliate WCCB.

"We have kept our faith, and now we have real reason to be hopeful," added Writebol's husband.