Kent Brantly is back on campus.
Brantly was scheduled to talk as the guest speaker in Chapel Monday. During the Opening Assembly, the university planned to give him an honorary doctorate. He is then set to sign copies of his book, Called for Life, to end a packed day of events.
Brantly (’03) gained international attention when he tested positive for Ebola while working in Monrovia, Liberia, in July 2014.
The family medicine physician was working as a medical missionary at the ELWA Hospital when news of a nearby Ebola outbreak in Guinea first surfaced in March of last year. It took under a week for the virus to spread to Liberia.
Brantly stayed at the hospital, assuming the responsibility of director of ELWA’s treatment unit to manage possible outbreaks in Monrovia.
For several months, Brantly and his surrounding workers dealt with patients suffering from Ebola, a rare and deadly virus.
He continued caring for the infected persons, changing diapers and sheets, cleaning them and feeding them, until he found himself lying in bed suffering similar ailments. On July 23, he was diagnosed with the Ebola virus.
That date marked a change in his experience with the virus, as it did the entire world’s. In less than two weeks, Brantly and his coworker, Nancy Writebol, a nurse that also contracted the virus, were treated with an experimental drug from LeafBio Inc, a California pharmaceutical company.
As his condition appeared to worsen, Brantly was flown to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, which was deemed the most fit medical center to handle the situation.
Nancy Writebol later joined him.
After about 19 days in isolation, Brantly was released from the hospital.
His journey did not stop there.
Brantly used his international fame to bring attention to the issues still affecting Liberia and West Africa. From his exclusive interaction with the virus, Brantly advocated for a more thorough attempt to help those exposed. He used his private meeting with President Obama and Congressional committees as an opportunity to testify about the Ebola crisis. He called for fast and coordinated action on a global level to properly detain the virus.
Usually accompanied by his wife, Amber, Brantly spoke to news organizations like Time Magazine, Los Angeles Times and more, keeping West Africa’s need for assistance as well as his Christian faith at the forefront of interviews.
In acknowledgement of his work, Brantly was scheduled to receive an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the university during Opening Assembly.
Ron Hadfield, assistant vice president for university communications, said bestowing of honorary doctorates started in 1930 as a way to recognize an individual’s success as well as his or her donations to ACU.
“In his opportunities to speak to the media, he used the opportunity to talk about his faith and about the university,” Hadfield said.
About a year after being diagnosed with Ebola, Brantly published Called for Life. The book explores summer of 2014, starting just as Brantly receives his first Ebola patient in Monrovia, and works its way to present day. In a first-person point of view, he is able to paint a scene for readers on every page, from the dire conditions in ELWA’s treatment unit to the news conference at Emory Hospital.
He offers insight on what Ebola was like to take care of, then to battle, in a way the reporters and interviewers were unable to in the weeks and months after his recovery.
Brantly is scheduled to sign copies of his book in Hunter Welcome Center from 1:30-2:30 p.m. Monday. Books will be available for purchase at the event. Although Amber is not scheduled to be at the signing, Hadfield said she pre-signed books for the event.