UPDATE: Doctor's condition improving slightly in fight against Ebola

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Updated: .
The doctor from Indiana who contracted Ebola has improved slightly, but he remains in serious condition.

As a medical missionary, Dr. Kent Brantly has traveled the world to help people who need it most.

"If I had to really pick one word to describe him, it would be 'selfless'," said Kent Smith at the Southside Church of Christ. "He really does care about other people more than he cares about himself."

Smith is a friend and elder at Brantly's church in Fort Worth, Texas.

"Somebody had to do it and he's the kind of guy that says, 'Somebody needs to do it and I've got the skills to do it, I'm gonna do it'," Smith said.

Brantly, his wife, and two young children left Fort Worth in October to go to Liberia in West Africa. His family posted YouTube videos of their new life there.

When the Ebola epidemic started ravaging Liberia, the graduate of Heritage High School and the IU School of Medicine ended up leading the fight to stop it at the hospital where he worked. Then last week, he fell victim to the virus himself.

Because of instability and ongoing security issues in the area, Samaritan’s Purse - the Christian non-profit organization Kently works with - is curtailing operations in Liberia, according to a statement on the Samaritan's Purse website. Non-essential personnel are being evacuated but medical staff are remaining on site to treat patients.

“We are doing everything possible to help Dr. Brantly and Nancy,” Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham said. “We ask everyone to please pray urgently for them and their families.”

"As you can imagine, this is a difficult circumstance for all of us," said Dr. David McCray.

McCray, a friend and former colleague at John Peter Smith Hospital, read an email Brantly send him to share.

To David,

I think what I would like to say is, 'Thank you for all of the prayers and messages of encouragement. I'm praying fervently that God would help me survive this disease. Thank you all so much.'


Brantly's family issued a statement through Samaritan's Purse thanking the public for their outpouring of support. The statement read, in part:

"As people with a deep faith in Jesus, we sincerely thank the thousands of people worldwide who have lifted up Kent and this dreadful situation in prayer. We continue to lean on that faith and take great consolation in our God in these times.

"We have a strong family unit within a stronger faith community that has given us incredible support. Kent remains very physically weak but his spirit has been determined throughout this ordeal.

"We ask for your continued prayers for Kent, his colleague, Nancy Writebol, and the healthcare workers in Liberia struggling to meet the overwhelming demands of those who are sick with the Ebola virus as well as patients who have come to that hospital with other needs.

Nancy Writebol, a missionary with SIM, also contracted the virus while working in the same area. Like Brantly, she showed improvement Tuesday into Wednesday but remains in serious condition.

This is the worst Ebola outbreak in history. The top doctor treating Ebola in Sierra Leone has died from the disease.