Brantly family reflects on son's recovery from Ebola

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The Indiana doctor who survived Ebola is recovering out of public view. Dr. Kent Brantly left Emory hospital on August 21 after what his parents call a miraculous recovery from the deadly virus.

Now, for the first time his parents and sister are sharing how faith sustained them through the medical crisis.

“I believe God still moves mountains. I believe God does miracles. I believe God uses natural events and He uses people and things He's put in place to bring about miracles," says Brantly's mother Jan. "I think God connected all of the dots and people were willing to be used.”

Dr. Brantly became ill in July while serving the organization "Samaritan's Purse" in Liberia. He shared the bad news from his home in West Africa with his family in Indiana through Facetime.

"He called and said my test was positive for Ebola. I have Ebola virus disease,” said Dr. Brantly's father Jim. "He said, I serve a faithful God. I've committed myself to Him. Whether I live or whether I die I want to glorify Him and I'll be in His hands."

"I felt like I had the breath knocked out of me. All I could say was 'Dear God, please no'”, said Dr. Brantly's sister Krista. "When I read the statement from Samaritan's Purse that said Kent had taken a turn for the worse. I was very scared. You think you are praying as hard as you can and something happens and you realize, you can pray harder," said Krista Brantly.

Krista Brantly

Brantly's family quickly learned that Kent, whose spiritual life blossomed at Heritage Christian School in Indianapolis, was facing his biggest crisis with enormous faith.

"In the same breath that he said my test was positive, he said whether I live or die, I want God to be glorified. And when Kent said those words, he never expected that the world would hear those words,” said Jan Brantly. “Kent was saying those words to momma and daddy, to brothers and sisters and best friends. Kent knew that within two weeks or less, he would be recovering or we would be planning a memorial service for him."

Jan Brantly

The Brantly family says they leaned on their own faith and shared how they prayed through it all.

"I pleaded with God to spare his life. I begged him to bring Kent home to us and to his wife and two little children. But, I told God it was His battle. And that He had already won the battle. I felt His presence and peace,” said Jan Brantly. "I knew that I would still praise God even if Kent didn't survive Ebola. I had so many things to praise Him for. I would praise Him that Kent had been given to this world for 33 years and for the difference I felt he had already made in that 33 years in the kingdom. I knew I would praise Him for his two wonderful children and that I would praise God that He was with Kent when Kent struggled to share that difficult news with his family.”

"I remember the day that we knew Kent's condition was grave and they thought would not make it to morning in Liberia. I had a long, tearful conversation with God. When I finished that conversation, I felt the peace of his presence and I walked outside on the lawn and watched the waves on the lake, just kind of wandered around the lawn very peacefully for a couple of hours. It was within a couple of hours that the doctor who was treating Kent in Liberia called and said, I want you on the speaker phone. That was very frightening because he wanted his parents and Amber and her parents on the speakerphone. We didn't know what news we were going to get. But he said, I felt compelled to give Kent a dose of the serum that had been delivered to Nancy's bedside. And, they had been thawing a dose for Nancy. And, they went to her bedside and got the dose and brought it back and gave it to Kent. Within an hour, Kent responded to the serum. There were people surrounding his house praying. He was in his home. There were people surrounding his house praying. There were people all over the world praying. We are convinced God used those people and that serum and that doctor. He connected the dots to put things in place to save Kent's life,” said Jan Brantly.

Dr. Brantly spoke at length when he was released from the hospital.

"I knew God was bigger than Ebola. I knew God had the ability to heal Kent regardless of the reports we were getting on his condition but I also knew he might not and that we had trust him either way,” said Krista Brantly. "You have no choice but to trust God and pray that he's going to answer the prayer the way you're begging him to."

Dr. Brantly responded well to an experimental drug called ZMapp and was evacuated from Liberia. He returned to the United States on a plane and walked out of the ambulance into Emory hospital where his family saw him.

"First time I was able to see him through the glass and was able to say something to him, I said something like 'Kent, I love you. And it's great to see you. And, we're praying for you,'” said Jim Brantly. "He was very weak at that point. He was able to talk but he was lying in bed almost motionless except for pressing the button on the intercom system.”

"I was speechless. I just stood and looked at him through the glass and cry. I was so touched by just seeing him and knowing he was in a place where he could get care that he needed. He had been alone so much in Liberia because their manpower was so limited. "I was speechless. I just stood and looked at him through the glass and cry. I was so touched by just seeing him and knowing he was in a place where he could get care that he needed. He had been alone so much in Liberia because their manpower was so limited. To see a nurse at his bed in her hazmat suit, to be there for him was just overwhelming joy that he was in a place where we knew he could get the care he needed. We had marveled that he had been able to survive as sick as he was,” said Jan Brantly.

"I didn't realize he was right there, right on the other side of the window. And then we made eye contact. I was surprised how bad he looked. I didn't really think about how bad he was going to look,” said Krista Brantly. "I just started to cry. I don't remember what I said. But he said, I'm going to survive Krista. There have been several moments throughout this experience where I've thought at the time, that was the best moment of my life. When I saw him get out of the ambulance was one. But that moment topped the ambulance," said Krista Brantly.

While Dr. Brantly recovers at an undisclosed location, his family prays for West Africa.

"It's become a burden that we share with him. I continue to pray for the crisis situation in West Africa and the people who are suffering there and the people who working to relieve that suffering," said Krista Brantly.

Kent Brantly's sister says there are several scriptures that now reflect how the family feels.

"One is the scripture that says He has turned my mourning into dancing and my sorrow into joy," said Krista Brantly. "The verse says I am your God who holds your right hand. I say to you do not be afraid for I will help you."

The family says they pray for the next chapter of Dr. Brantly's life.

"I'll praise the Lord always for the fact that Kent and Amber were able to begin their life's dream together of serving in Liberia. I don't know where they'll go from here. I have no idea where God will take Kent and Amber from here but I believe they feel called to serve,” said Jan Brantly. "We've heard from people from over 30 countries who have been praying for Kent. We don't know why that happened or how that happened. But, I believe God has used this experience or this event to bring himself in a way, we haven't seen before," said Jan Brantly.