CNN reported Thursday that a U.S.-contracted medical charter flight had left Cartersville, Ga., to evacuate Charlotte missionary Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly of Boone-based Samaritan’s Purse – two Americans in Liberia who have contracted the deadly Ebola virus.
CNN and other TV networks also reported that at least one of the two patients will be taken to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, near the headquarters of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It was unclear which of the two Americans would be taken to Emory and where the other one would be taken and treated. Writebol and her husband, David, are members of Calvary Church in Charlotte; Brantly and his family live in Texas.
Reached Thursday, Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham said he couldn’t comment on the CNN report.
“We are going to be issuing a statement (Friday),” he told the Observer. “We’re dealing with people’s lives here.”
Earlier Thursday, Fox News reported that Graham had told the network that he expected a specially equipped aircraft to bring Writebol and Brantly back to the United States in the next few days.
Amid these reports about a planned evacuation, SIM, a Charlotte-based missionary group, announced Thursday that Writebol’s condition has worsened.
It was SIM (Serving in Mission) that sent the Writebols to Liberia.
Nancy Writebol, who learned last week that she had contracted Ebola, “is in stable, but serious condition and is receiving an experimental drug that doctors hope will better address her condition,” SIM said.
Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian charity that partners with SIM at the hospital compound in Monrovia, where the Writebols work, announced Thursday that Brantly “took a slight turn for the worse overnight.” It said he was in “stable but grave condition.”
The charity also said that Brantly, a 33-year-old physician from Texas who works for Samaritan’s Purse, requested that the experimental drug – a serum – that arrived in Liberia on Wednesday be given to Writebol, 59. There was only enough for one person, Samaritan’s Purse said.
But, in a statement, Graham said that “Dr. Brantly received a unit of blood from a 14-year-old boy who had survived Ebola because of Dr. Brantly’s care. The young boy and his family wanted to be able to help the doctor that saved his life.”
Meanwhile, CNN and Fox News had reported earlier Thursday that talks were underway to bring Writebol and Brantly back to the United States for treatment. CNN quoted a U.S. State Department source.
Fox News said Samaritan’s Purse was working with the government to evacuate the two American patients.
“Graham told Fox News that all agreements are in place and that he hopes they will be on a specially equipped aircraft back home in a few days,” the network reported. “He also noted that the plane will likely have to make a stop for refueling.”