American Ebola patients released from Atlanta hospital

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A doctor with Indiana ties who contracted the Ebola virus in West Africa was released from an Atlanta hospital today.

Dr. Kent Brantly worked in Liberia treating patients with the deadly virus when he fell ill.

"Today is a miraculous day," Brantly said. "I am thrilled to be alive, to be well and to be reunited with my family."

Brantly and nurse Nancy Writebol received an experimental drug called ZMapp before being flown to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta earlier this month. Writebol was discharged from the hospital Tuesday.

"Frankly, we do not know whether it helped them, whether it made no difference, or even theoretically if it delayed their recovery," said Emory University Hospital Dr. Bruce Ribner.

Ribner, director of Emory's Infectious Disease Unit, said the decision of whether to discharge someone with Ebola or not is made on a case-by-case basis. There must be an absence of the virus in the blood and the patient's symptoms must be improving.

He said the patients' discharge poses no threat to the public.

"Limited knowledge of Ebola has created some fear and anxiety," Ribner said. "We cannot let our fears dictate our actions. We must all care."

Brantly said he never imagined he'd be in the position he was in.

He's thankful he "served a grateful God who answers prayers."

"God saved my life," he said.

He said he and his family will go away for a while "to reconnect, decompress and recover physically and emotionally."

"Above, all I am forever thankful to God for sparing my life," Brantly said. "Please continue to pray for Liberia and the people of West Africa."

Those who grew up with Brantly on the southeast side of Indianapolis are thrilled to see him well.

"Praying, crying. Crying, praying. It's been that same, all the time. Today was just joy, I mean, it's just joy," said Kelby Hicks.

Hicks grew up going to church with Brantly and his come congregation is excited to see what he does next.

"Now that he has come through this crisis, Kent is still Kent. He is still going to want to serve, he is still going to be someone who makes a difference for good in the world," said Senior Minister Greg York.

Brantly graduated from Heritage Christian School in 1999.

His history teacher, Dr. David Watt, is now the student, being schooled in faithfulness.

"Here is this young kid that I had in class and I'm looking up to him for the example that he set for me in just trusting in the Lord," Watt said.

Meanwhile, David Writebol says his wife, Nancy Writebol, decided it would be best to leave the hospital "privately." An Emory University doctor said during Thursday's news conference that the 59-year-old left the hospital Tuesday after tests showed she was free of the deadly virus.

"As she walked out of her isolation room, all she could say was, 'To God be the glory'," Brantly said.

In a statement, David Writebol says his wife "was greatly encouraged knowing that there were so many people around the world lifting prayers to God for her return to health." He calls her recovery "powerful testimony to God's sustaining grace."