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Ebola Survivor

Updated on January 13, 2015
Ebola Outbreak in Uganda, 2000
Ebola Outbreak in Uganda, 2000 | Source


The Ebola virus has been around since 1976, according to survivor Nancy Writebol as told to Abigal Cuffey in Woman's Day. That came as a surprise to me since we've been hearing about it for less than a year. We know how deadly viruses can become but we've never encountered one quite as deadly as Ebola, except for H.I.V. Caused by infection and spread through bodily fluids Ebola is rampant in Western Africa.

  • Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are the most affected countries.
  • In Sierra Leone there is a ban on public gatherings and a nightly curfew.
  • The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
  • Monkeys from Africa or the Philippines may carry Ebola.
  • The bodies of people who have died of Ebola are still contagious.
  • Ebola leads to multiple organ failures.
  • Ebola is difficult to diagnose as it's symptoms are similar to those of malaria.
  • The number of people diagnosed with the virus since its outbreak is 9,596 as of t his writing.

[The outbreak is] the greatest peacetime challenge that the United Nations and its agencies have ever faced.

— Margaret Chan, UN Cheat Sheet: 4 Things To Watch This Week (Sep. 22, 2014).

Ebola survivors

The number of Ebola survivors is growing. Some superstitious natives think the survivors are some kind of witches because they survived. According to the World Health Organization there are many problems to be faced for survivors in West Africa. Their families have died while they were ill, some have some type of eye or vision problems. Others have peeling skin, yet others joint and muscle pains. So even those who survive, suffer.

For some survivors their bout with Ebola and their subsequent immunity has led them to help others in their community and they work as volunteers in clinics.

Among the survivors are six Americans; Dr. Kent Brantly, Dr. Rick Sacra, aid worker Nancy Writebol, nurse Nina Pham, nurse Amber Vinson and journalist Ashoka Mukpo. These people were treating people with Ebola or writing about it for us. Two more Ebola patients have died on U.S. soil: Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed with the disease in the U.S., and Dr. Martin Salia. Each survivor had a unique experience and a unique story to tell, including Nancy Writebol.

Nancy Writebol

Nancy was born in Charlotte, North Carolina. She and her husband were married in 1974 and raised two sons, now both in their thirties. When their sons were in their teens the Writebols decided to heed the call and investigate what they could do to serve God as missionaries. Nancy's parents had been very religious and even traveled to Haiti to help out. She had met many religious missionaries when she was growing up. Her husband Dave was a youth pastor and also heard the call to do more.

They began their missionary career in Ecuador, then northwest South America, and Zambia in southern Africa. In August of 2013 they joined an interdenominational Christian group called Serving in Mission (SIM). They then went to Liberia where David was a technical manager of the hospital and Nancy was a nurse's assistant when Ebola broke out. In fact she was in charge of overseeing health workers treating Ebola patients. She made sure they put on their personal protective equipment (PPE) and she sprayed them with a bleach solution after they'd been in contact with patients. She often worked twelve and fourteen hour shifts. She made sure doctors and nurses had no skin exposed. She was believed to be in the "low risk" section of the hospital.

Nancy felt safe and her concern was for the patients and the doctors and nurses treating them. When her symptoms first began she was convinced she had malaria. At first her blood test did show malaria but the treatment didn't seem to be working and her symptoms worsened. A second blood test showed she had Ebola. David told her by saying that Kent Brantley M.D., a close friend, had Ebola, "And so do you". It seems Dr. Brantley got sick on July 22 and Nancy on July 23. Different magazines and Nancy's own account tell how David reached out wanting to hug her and she told him "no don't". She was concerned for his health. No one knows how she contracted the deadly strain of Ebola, but she did.

David and Nancy's little bungalow was turned into an isolation unit for Nancy. David was isolated for twenty-one days in a separate apartment. For two weeks her condition worsened and she explained that she felt weaker and weaker. She repeats over and over that her faith helped to see her through. There were days she didn't think she was going to live and others when she was just grateful to be alive.

Her condition worsened and she began showing signs of internal bleeding along with diarrhea and memory lapses due to her dehydration. She was in excrutiating pain and even the bed sheets hurt her. It looked like she was going to die. An experimental drug was flown in but not enough to give to Brantly and Writebol. Due to her failing health it was given to Nancy. There were three doses needed however, after deciding to give the initial dose to Nancy, Dr. Brantly took a turn for the worse. The final decision was one dose to Nancy, one to Dr. Brantly and the third to whoever needed it.

SIM arranged for her to be flown to Atlanta. Dr. Brantly was flown out on August 3 and Nancy on August 4. She said she didn't think she was going to live through that fifteen hour flight.

David and their two sons were allowed to talk to Nancy on a telephone and could see her through a window at the hospital in Atlanta. She couldn't get out of bed, her vision was blurred and she suffered from nerve pain in her feet. She gradually improved and at one point was able to walk to a shower with the help of a nurse. Finally, a month after contracting the virus, Nancy was virus free.

An article about Nancy in the AARP magazine states, "Experts don't know exactly what saved Nancy Writebol - whether it was the ZMapp, the blood transfusions or simply the supportive care she received in the U.S., something that doctors have pointed out is sadly lacking in West Africa." The Writebols believe it was the "grace of God".

She still suffers residual effects and will stay in the States until she is fully recovered. Will she return to Africa? She is not sure yet but believes she will.

Did you know Early Ebola symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, cough, stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.

See results

What Next?

The outbreak is not over. Ebola continues to spread and is untreated in outlying areas. The cases of Dr.Brantley and Nancy Writebol brought Ebola to the forefront here in America, but now it seems publicity is dying down. Ebola, however, is not dying down. The main concern is those outlying areas where cases are not only unreported but untreated.

World organizations and governments must continue their support and education regarding Ebola, its prevention, and its treatment. A better health infrastructure is needed in places like Africa to help prevent future spreading of Ebola or yet unknown diseases.

Property of Tillsontitan - All Rights Reserved

Information Gathered From the Following Sources

Mayo Clinic Diseases -

CBC News, World - - #mce_temp_url#

New York Daily News -

Woman's Day February 2015, "I Survived Ebola" by Nancy Writebol, as told to Abigail Cuffey

The AARP Magazine, December 2014/January 2015, Back From the Dead: An Ebola Victim's Story by Jan Goodwin.


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    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      3 years ago from New York

      So true Charito1962 and fortunately they were able to help those in need.

    • Charito1962 profile image

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 

      3 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      All I can say is that Nancy Writebol had a miraculous cure! I'm surprised she even survived!

      I've seen photos of the Ebola victims - and they are horrific!

      Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol are just so lucky, Ms. Mary.

      I guess God has other plans for them.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      Thank you Brett. Sometimes it is difficult to see the good that can come out of the bad. Things are going pretty well for me. It is nice to see you here, I hope it is a sign we'll see more of you.

      Georgescifo, I'm glad my hub can be of some service. It would be sad to forget what's still happening.

    • georgescifo profile image


      4 years ago from India

      The stories of survivors of dangerous diseases like Ebola can really be an inspirational piece of work for everyone and will help them in the future. Thanks for coming up with a gem on Ebola survivors and really appreciate the facts mentioned.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett C 

      4 years ago from Asia

      Very nicely written. I like how you highlight how survivors suffer ... everyone seems to think they just got off. The fact that survivors use it to help others is only a tribute.

      Thanks for your kind words ... also voting and sharing. How are things going for you on here now? I noticed your profile, quite an achievement ;-)

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      So true Deb. How long will it take us to learn?

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      These diseases are nothing to toy with, and there will be that one small chance that is overlooked when it can be contracted.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      I hate to agree with you Patricia but often times I think you're right. You are not alone on your soap box. I hope those angels are watching over you as well.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      4 years ago from sunny Florida

      It is sad that such horrendous illnesses can be cured but are not for whatever reason. In my limited knowledge I believe that there is so much financial gain to be had by keeping cancer and ebola and whatever the next 'thing' is that they may never be cured or wiped from the planet.

      I am basically a very positive person and have no ax to grind with anyone but I just think that way to much money and time and science has been wasted...I think cures could be here if it were not financially expedient to keep manufacturing drugs which of course need sick people to consume them

      Sorry I will get off my soap box now.

      WEll done...

      I am glad these survivors are on the planet...obviously it was not time for their journey to end :D

      Angels are on the way to you and to them ps

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      Genna I can only hope that "rumor" isn't true. That would be certainly beyond the human mind to comprehend, to allow such suffering for financial gain though other rumors have circulated about near cures for cancer as well. Hopefully they are just rumors.

      I too think people who go beyond human limits to help others are amazing and the true heroes of our day. Thanks for the votes and share.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Mary, it was so refreshing to read about this deadly disease from a personal perspective of one who suffered from Ebola and survived, as well as the impact on her family. I agree with Ruby in that I have great admiration for those volunteers who have taken on great personal risk in an effort to help and save others. Sadly, it has come to light that a promising vaccine was in the works, so to speak, years ago. But it is rumored that big pharm passed on funding further research due to the fact that not enough people had contracted this virus; thus, they wouldn’t recoup their significant development costs. (I noted “rumored” since the media is not often accurate with their reporting.) Voted up ++ and shared.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      Nice to know you found his informative peach purple, and yes it is very the whole world.

    • peachpurple profile image


      4 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      very informative hub that teaches us what ebola is and how dangerous it is to us humans

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      So true Jodah. I keep thinking of what happened with A.I.D.S.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you for researching and sharing this vital information Mary. It was good to hear Nancy Writebol's personal story. There is still so much to be done to overcome this epidemic. Voted up.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      I wanted to make sure I had the true facts Mike.

      Thank you Blossom.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

      4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Great research and a very interesting article. Thank you.

    • mckbirdbks profile image


      4 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Mary - You shead some light on a very hot topic. Your source guide show you spent a great deal of time on the research.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      That is scary Peg and I wondered when she kept going to work at the facility could it be spread further? That's my concern too. Now that it's not on the front page people may think it's gone and it certainly is not.

      Like you Sha, I get a stomach bug I deal with it. Prayerfully Ebola won't spread worldwide but there's no guarantee of that.

      To business I too hope more survive and the drugs being developed will help. I believe they are working on some type of vaccine but like any virus there is more than one strain.

      Thank you Manatita. We all need to be aware of our brothers. God bless.

    • manatita44 profile image


      4 years ago from london

      Well written, resourced and informative article, Mary. More articles needed to enlighten many. Peace.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      4 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Mary an excellent article on the ebola crisis and the men and women who are prepared to give so much. I believe they are all exceptional human beings. Knowing the risks as they do, they are still prepared to do whatever it takes to beat this awful disease.

      The good news is that more people are surviving, including the British nurse Pauline Cafferkey who is currently being treated at the Royal Free Hospital in London. Unfortunately far too many are still dying in Africa. Let's hope this brave nurse makes a full recovery.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 years ago from Central Florida

      Mary, this is a great follow-up article. I had no idea that Ebola has been a concern for so many years!

      It's kinda scary. The symptoms sound much like the flu or a stomach bug. How many people go to the doctor for either ailment? I know I don't.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      4 years ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      When Thomas Eric Duncan was brought to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, Ebola was all over the news for hours at a time. Many times, we've been to that facility for eye surgeries, endoscopy, routine medical visits and physical therapy. I can tell you, it sent a wave of fear throughout the community and a reluctance to go anywhere that might expose a person to the deadly disease.

      When I heard that his fiancé worked at an assisted living facility and had continued to go to work after Eric came down with symptoms, I thought it would become widespread in Dallas. I'm grateful that Nancy Writebol and Dr. Brantley were able to overcome the illness and provide plasma to other infected parties. I'm also concerned that it has been put on the back burner in the news as if it doesn't exist.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      Yes DD, an amazing lady for sure. Someone we can look up to.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Interesting and indeed a very brave person.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      Ruby so do I, that's why I was so taken with Nancy's story.

      I hope so too Faith she is an admirable person. I'm glad you enjoyed and appreciate your votes and shares.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      4 years ago from southern USA

      Excellent article, Mary. Nancy's story is inspiring and I do hope she recovers fully and is able to do what she has a passion for in this life to do no matter what. I agree with Jamie that you have brought a fresh perspective to the topic of Ebola.

      Well done!

      Up ++++ tweeting, pinning and sharing

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I have deep admiration for anyone who will travel to help those in need. I enjoyed reading Nancy's story. Thank you for sharing...

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      I believe Nancy Writebol is a hero and that we shouldn't forget about Ebola. Thank you Eric, I appreciate you reading.

      Thank you for the high praise and vote of confidence Frank. I was so moved by this woman's dedication and self sacrifice.

      Thank you Jamie. Nancy's story seemed to me to be the perfect vehicle to drive knowledge about Ebola.

      Bill, I appreciate your praise. As I've said I was captured by Nancy's story but was afraid I wouldn't do it justice.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for the information, Mary, and this is very well-written. I love the direction you took this and the approach. Unique and interesting...a winner!

    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 

      4 years ago from Reno NV

      What a creative and well written way to discuss Ebola. You were able to bring a fresh perspective to a topic that is important yet a little overplayed in the media. Jamie

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      4 years ago from Shelton

      You opened up the research book and also gave her story vision.. so we know who she really is Tillsontitan.. great hub and hub of the day caliber so Ill turn in my vote for it

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      An excellent article. You really personalized her story and yet gave great information on the disease. Voted up, that is for sure. Thank you


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