The government of Liberia is poised to bestow a distinction on United States Ebola survivor and hero, Dr. Kent Brantly, who became infected with the virus while serving in Liberia during the heat of the Ebola crisis.
The government has said this year’s July 26 Independence celebration is dedicated to people who were in the frontline fighting Ebola, adding that Dr. Brantley is listed among those to be honored during the country’s 168th independence celebrations scheduled to be held in Greenville, Sinoe County.
The honor will be bestowed in recognition of their sacrifices made for Liberia and its people.
The disclosure was made by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf last week when she received the American doctor and his family at the Foreign Ministry.
Dr. Brantly, who was working with the Samaritan Purse medical team, contracted the deadly EVD while attending to patients at the Ebola Treatment Center at the ELWA hospital during the height of the Ebola crisis. He was immediately airlifted to the US for intensive treatment.
He was one of two US medical practitioners to have become infected with the deadly virus while serving in Liberia. The other is Madam Nancy Writebol who also worked at the ELWA health center where she contracted the virus. It is not yet known whether she will also be honored at the Greenville ceremony.
President Sirleaf hailed Dr. Kent Brantly for his humanitarian services to Liberia and its people and recalled how he contracted the virus and risked losing his life only to help the country fight the world’s deadliest ever outbreak that was killing Liberians in their numbers.
Dr. Brantly became the first American to be infected by the Ebola Virus Disease. His case brought more publicity on the effects of the outbreak, thereby attracting more attention and assistance from around the world.
President Sirleaf earlier welcomed Dr. Brantly and his family back to Liberia and informed him that Liberians appreciate him and recognized the risk he took under very difficult circumstances to serve this country during the Ebola crisis. Liberians are even more grateful that he and his family chose to return to Liberia.
She lauded Dr. Brantly’s wife, Amber, for the support given Dr. Brantly during his mission to Liberia and at the time of his ailment. “The children may not have known exactly what was going on but I am sure they missed daddy. This kind of family support is a real example of family commitment to excellence and service,” the President indicated.
Dr. Brantly, in response, said it is an incredible honor for him to be selected for a national honor during the celebration of the country’s independence, ironically coinciding with the date he was diagnosed of the EVD and was tested positive on July 26, 2014.
Unfortunately, Dr. Brantly said he will be unable to receive the honor in person, but has requested that Dr. John Fankhauser of the ELWA Hospital represent him at the honoring ceremonies.
Dr. Brantley said he was impressed with the level of support he received during his ailment. While churches and friends around the world were praying for him, Liberia was also supportive. He said he watched President Sirleaf on TV wishing him a speedy recovery while in the hospital.
He was also impressed by the international attention his illness attracted to Liberia. He called on partners to remain supportive of the fight against Ebola in the region, and on communities to stop discrimination against Ebola survivors.
Dr. Brantly expressed happiness at being able to return to Liberia and for the defeat of the Ebola virus disease. He pointed out that many people from around the world have thanked him for the work he has done for Liberia and Africa as a whole, but believes he has done very little.
“I am glad that my ailment brought a lot of attention to Liberia and the rest of the affected countries and how it helped to enhance more support and ended the crisis. The many prayers for me, my family and Liberia during my ailment was great and I want to personally thank you for your leadership before, during and after the Ebola crisis,” Dr. Brantly stressed.
Dr. Brantly indicated that he was glad to join Liberians in celebrating the defeat of the virus from the country; but urged all to be concerned about Guinea and Sierra Leone because until it is over in the region and the other affected countries, the Ebola crisis is not over.
“I am pleased to be of service to humanity and will continue to do so for as long as God grants me breath. Stigmatization and discrimination against Ebola survivors is a part of the problem that exits and I have spoken out against that as a part of our message here in Liberia,” Dr. Brantly said.
“Madam President, I was able to see you many times on the television mentioning that you, your government and the Liberian people were concerned and praying for me and all other ailing people from the virus and I would like to personally thank you for this,” he said.