(NBC) -- A dose of “experimental serum” arrived in Liberia to be tried on a U.S. charity worker struggling for her life — but there was only enough for one of the two infected workers, so Dr. Kent Brantly asked that it be used on his colleague, the group Samaritan’s Purse said Thursday.
Dr. Brantly, a doctor with the group who was also infected, tried an alternative treatment, using blood transfused from a young survivor of the virus.
“Yesterday, 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 in a statement. “However, 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.”
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Nancy Writebol's son, Jeremy, told NBC News he strongly commended Dr. Brantly's selflessness.
“Dr. Brantly has demonstrated once again how Jesus sacrificed for us. We pray for Kent’s full recovery and healing.”
The group didn’t say which drug had been shipped. There are several in development, including one that a Canadian company had been testing in people already but had stopped which it addressed U.S. Food and Drug Administration concerns.
Many of the drugs are based on antibodies that are produced naturally by the body during infection. In some infections, antibodies from a survivor can help a patient fight infection.
“The safety of our staff is a top priority and Samaritan’s Purse is currently working to evacuate all but the most essential personnel to their home countries,” Graham added. “The evacuation should be completed this weekend. The exact timeline and destinations are being kept confidential to respect their privacy. Samaritan’s Purse is taking precautions that exceed the standards recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.”