Samaritan's Purse doctor Kent Brantly, who contracted Ebola while fighting the deadly outbreak in Liberia over the summer, is one of the medical workers honored as TIME magazine's 2014 "Person of the Year." "From the community health care volunteers in Liberia, to the dedicated staff of organizations like Samaritan's Purse and MSF, to the doctors and nurses at Emory University Hospital, Ebola Fighters are mostly anonymous heroes whose diverse faces are largely unknown even to their patients as they wage this war in head-to-toe protective gear," Dr. Brantlysaid. "It is these nameless champions that TIME has recognized today."
The Ebola outbreak, which is still not contained and has killed over 6,000 people in West Africa, has proven especially dangerous to medical personnel and anyone working in close quarters with the disease. Brantlysurvived and recovered from Ebola after successful treatment back in America, and received the experimental drug ZMapp at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
This year, TIME honors a number of other Christian doctors as well, such as 46-year-old Dr. Jerry Brown of nondenominational Christian mission Eternal Love Winning Africa Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia.
"I always had the fear of myself or one of my staff getting infected, and what would become of me thereafter," Brown said about news of the disease starting to spread through Liberia in March.
Brown recalls having to turn the ELWA's church chapel into an isolation ward, since the mission's hospital did not have such a section, and there was no time or money to build one.
"Well, of course, turning the chapel into an Ebola unit was not welcomed by the staff of the institution. The bulk of them said, 'Why should we turn the house of God into a place where we put people with such a deadly disease?' And some said, 'Where will you provide for us to worship in the morning?'" Brown recalled.
Dr. John Fankhauser, a family physician from Ventura, Calif. and another volunteer, pointed out to staff that Jesus had also treated people in the house of God.
Brown asked the hospital workers: "What if you get sick with Ebola, or a member of your family? If the ELWA facility is not prepared to treat patients, where will you go?" He added that eventually, "a couple of them saw reason."
TIME's in-depth feature focuses on a number of other stories in the fight against Ebola as well, including that of SIM missionary Nancy Writebol, who also contacted the virus in Liberia but survived following treatment in America.
Earlier this week, the World Health Organization reported that the death toll from Ebola has reached 6,388 people out of 17,942 cases. The disease has relatively slowed down in Guinea and Liberia over the past several weeks, but it continues rising in Sierra Leone, and the need for further medical resources and efforts remains great.
Samaritan's Purse President Franklin Graham said that his organization is grateful that TIME has chosen to honor Brantly and the many men and women who are risking their lives to fight the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history.
"This battle for life is far from over, and Samaritan's Purse will continue our work in this huge effort. We pray for each one of these heroes on the frontline and those suffering from Ebola. May God bring healing and comfort to them all," Graham said.
Samaritan's Purse, as well as a number of other Christian and other NGOs are continuing their mission in West Africa, treating Ebola patients and educating the public in important prevention measures.