By Ferdous Al-Faruque - 08/08/14 03:31 PM EDT
Dr. Kent Brantly, an American doctor who contracted Ebola in Liberia, says he is doing better in a statement released Friday.
“I am growing stronger every day, and I thank God for His mercy as I have wrestled with this terrible disease,” said the physician, who works for the missionary group Samaritan’s Purse.
“I also want to extend my deep and sincere thanks to all of you who have been praying for my recovery as well as for Nancy [Writebol] and for the people of Liberia and West Africa,” he added.
The two were given an experimental drug known as ZMapp and flown back to the U.S. for further treatment, and are being kept isolated at the Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
The American missionaries came under criticism from conservative commentator Ann Coulter, who said they should have stayed in the U.S. to do missionary work instead of trying to be “heroic” in West Africa.
Brantly said he and his family did not move to Liberia to treat Ebola, but as the outbreak expanded he did his duty.
“One thing I have learned is that following God often leads us to unexpected places. When Ebola spread into Liberia, my usual hospital work turned more and more toward treating the increasing number of Ebola patients,” said Brantly.
“I held the hands of countless individuals as this terrible disease took their lives away from them. I witnessed the horror firsthand, and I can still remember every face and name,” he added.
An emergency House subcommittee meeting was held Thursday to talk about the outbreak, which has already been identified in more than 1,700 people and threatens to double in the next few weeks at the current rate.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention already has 31 staff members on the ground in West Africa to help quell the outbreak and is sending another 50 in the coming days to stop the disease at the source.