A small private jet based in Atlanta was flown to Liberia to bring back one of the two American missionaries sick with Ebola. Dr. Kent Brantly arrived back in the U.S. Saturday morning in serious condition.
But officials say Brantly was able to walk from an ambulance into the isolation unit of an Atlanta hospital as he arrived.
"It was a relief to welcome Kent home today," said his wife Amber Brantly. "I spoke with him, and he is glad to be back in the U.S. I am thankful to God for his safe transport and for giving him the strength to walk into the hospital."
Missionary Nancy Writebol is also in serious condition and scheduled to be flown back to the U.S. in the next few days.
The U.S. State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are helping to arrange the evacuations.
Brantly serves with Samaritan's Purse and was previously treating Ebola patients at a hospital in Liberia. Writebol served at the same hospital while working as a medical missionary with the Charlotte-based SIM mission organization.
Both missionaries will be treated at Atlanta's Emory University Hospital which has a special isolation unit.
“We thank God that they are alive and now have access to the best care in the world,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse. “We are extremely thankful for the help we have received from the State Department, the CDC, the National Institute of Health, WHO and, of course, Emory Hospital.”
The CDC has received "nasty emails" and at least 100 calls from people saying "How dare you bring Ebola into the country!?" said CDC Director Tom Frieden.
"I hope that our understandable fear of the unfamiliar does not trump our compassion when ill Americans return to the U.S. for care," Frieden said.
The current Ebola outbreak in Africa has killed more than 700 people. Both SIM and Samaritan's Purse are requesting prayer for Writebol and Brantly.
"Please continue praying for Kent and Nancy (Writebol), and please continue praying for the people of Liberia and those who continue to serve them there," Amber Brantley said.
Samaritan's Purse and SIM are currently working to evacuate all but their most essential personnel in Liberia. At the same time, SIM is sending another doctor into Liberia to treat Ebola patients.
Brantly left the States with his family last November to work in Samaritan Purse's post-residency program for young doctors who feel called into medical missions. Last summer he spoke at his home church, Southeastern Church of Christ in Indianapolis.
He thanked the congregation for its support of his walk with Christ as a child and young man.
"While I still do not know exactly where God is calling me I have no doubt, no hesitation that He has called me to be a full-time medical missionary and as I dream about what that looks like in the years to come my heart leaps with excitement and joy knowing that He has called me," he told them. Listen to his sermon here.
Though he's bed-ridden with the deadly Ebola virus, Brantly has not stopped serving others.
He is gravely ill. But Samaritan's Purse said the doctor didn't allow the virus to prevent him from focusing on the well-being of others earlier in the week.
"An experimental serum arrived in the country, but there was only enough for one person. Dr. Brantly asked that it be given to Nancy Writebol," Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse, said.
"However, Dr. Brantly received a unit of blood from a 14-year-old boy who had survived Ebola because of Dr. Brantly's care," Graham added. "The young boy and his family wanted to be able to help the doctor who saved his life."
Writebol, and American nurse working with SIM USA, a missions organization, worked alongside Brantly.
Her condition has worsened but she was reportedly in stable condition. Her husband, David is nearby but he can only visit her through a window or dressed in a hazmat suit because the virus is contagious and deadly.
"We continue to pray for Nancy's full and complete recovery," Bruce Johnson, president of SIM USA, said. "Even though her condition has worsened, we know she is receiving the best possible medical care, and we are thankful that she has access to this experimental drug."
"We believe in the power of prayer and ask people around the world not only to pray for Nancy and Kent, but also for everyone affected by this terrible virus," he said.
Samaritan's Purse is also requesting prayer for both Writebol and Brantly, all those affected by Ebola, and the healthcare workers who are caring for them.
The Boone, North Carolina, organization said it expects all but the most essential of its personnel will be evacuated from West Africa and returned to their home countries by this weekend.
Prayer services for both were held Wednesday at their home churches in North Carolina and Texas. Dr. Brantly's family expressed their gratitude for the outpouring of love and support.
"We appreciate so much all the words of comfort and acts of kindness extended to our family," Brantly's wife and family said in statement.
"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," they said
Click here to read their full statement.
As Ebola fatalities continue to rise, U.S. health officials urged Americans not to travel to the three countries hardest hit by the medical crisis: Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.