Nancy Writebol has a unique perspective on treating Ebola: She helped medical workers care for patients in Liberia, and then had to fight the virus herself after she was infected there in July. Writebol was flown to Atlanta and treated at Emory University Hospital, the same facility that successfully treated another Ebola patient, Dr. Kent Brantly.
On Monday, Writebol appeared on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” to talk about her experience and what the two cases that have appeared in Dallas mean for the American response to the epidemic. Here are excerpts from the interview.
Click to watch the full interview with Ebola survivor Nancy Writebol on MSNBC’s ‘Andrea Mitchell Reports’
Andrea Mitchell, MSNBC host: First of all, how are you doing? How are you feeling?
Nancy Writebol, Ebola survivor: I'm doing great. Thank you, Andrea.
Mitchell: The protective gear, I know it's arduous, it's a very slow process. We've seen that from our own teams who were in Liberia. Explain how you could somehow make a gesture or a mistake in the way you disrobe, take the gloves off, that sort of thing.
Writebol: Well, it's possible that when you come out of a unit, that as you take off your gloves, you might even touch your face, or it's possible that you take the suit off with clean hands and there might be Ebola on the outside of the suit. So it's possible that you can touch something that's unclean with a clean hand.
But we were very careful in making sure that health care workers, the doctors and nurses were sprayed down properly with bleach, and that we walked them through every step as they came out. It takes as long to get out of a suit as it does to get into a suit.
Mitchell: Nancy, have you been asked to donate blood? I know Dr. Brantly was a good match for our own freelance camera person, Ashoka Mukpo.
Writebol: I have been asked to donate blood. I have not been a match for any of the patients.
Mitchell: Let's talk about Liberia and Sierra Leone and the other countries so devastated by this. American troops troops are there now trying to create field hospitals, doing some lab work. But what is the implication of all of this? And the fact that Americans are getting so frightened by the possibility of Ebola here, when you have a whole part of a continent that is really experiencing the terrible outbreak?
Writebol: Well, I think fear can really play a big part into that. And I think just — we have one case right here right here, right now, two cases. And I think that we need to be really careful not to let that fear take hold of us in going and helping.
And, sure, it's possible that others will come in contact with Ebola, but it doesn't mean we should stop going, stop praying, stop giving. Just as I said before, sometimes firemen will go by a house, they’ll see a house on fire, and they stop and go in and help. And doctors and nurses are the same way. They see the great need, and we have friends that have gone back in this weekend to help. They see the need and they know that nothing can be accomplished if there isn't appropriate levels of help on the ground.
Mitchell: And, finally, we just wish you the best of health. I assume that you are monitored very closely because there are residual effects?
Writebol: Yes, I am. But things are going well. Thank you.