Nancy Writebol was diagnosed with Ebola on July 25 while in Liberia
The mother of two has been in Africa as part of her missionary work
Her pastor described Nancy and her husband as "the salt of the Earth"
Despite the high mortality rate, her son says: "We feel like Mom has a chance"
Nancy Writebol is a loving mother. A devoted wife. A woman of faith. A missionary who has traveled the world to help others.
“I’m so grateful that this beautiful woman is still with me,” her husband David said. “She is the best part of my life… I love her with all my heart.”
Writebol was diagnosed on July 25. She originally thought she had malaria, she said, and took medication to fight off the mosquito-borne disease. But even after the round of medication was completed, the symptoms persisted.
The others are colleague Dr. Kent Brantly and Patrick Sawyer, a naturalized citizen and Liberian government official who died from the disease earlier this week.
The missionary is expected to be picked up in West Africa and flown back to the United States, where she is expected to join Brantly – who arrived Saturday – in a special isolation unit at Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital. According to Todd Shearer, a spokesman for the Christian charity Samaritan’s Purse, she should be in Georgia early next week.
Writebol, whose missionary work includes 14 years of aiding orphans and vulnerable children in Africa, was in Liberia with the aid organization Serving in Mission. She and her husband arrived there in August 2013.
Since August 2013, the Writebols have been in Monrovia, Liberia, with the Serving in Mission group, which worked with Samaritan’s Purse.
She guided missionaries and teams and worked with nurses at ELWA hospital in the capital of Monrovia, where her husband is the technical services manager, according to the Christian group’s website.
Those who know Nancy best say that she’s motivated not by any quest for personal glory or thirst for adventure, but because she and her husband feel compelled to act because of their faith.
As husband David explained from Africa via Skype to members of Calvary Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, at a recent vigil for Nancy: “We have been blessed because of what Christ has done for us, (by giving) us eternal life and salvation.
“What else could we do (but help)?”
The fact that the Writebols left the comforts of America to live in an area rife with poverty, instability and disease, and put their lives at risk to assist those suffering everyday, doesn’t surprise those who know them.
John Munro, their friend and pastor at Calvary Church in Charlotte, described the couple as “the salt of the Earth,” the kind of people who wouldn’t give a second thought to dropping everything to help.
The only thing perhaps ironic about what’s happening now is how such an “unassuming” and “very humble” woman has become international news.
“She is … not someone who would ever make the headlines,” Munro said, “apart from something like this.”
Married for 40 years, the Writebols have traveled the globe, focused on their faith and their desire to help others. Wherever they’ve gone, their lives have been centered on their church and their family, including two now-adult sons who live in the United States.
Wherever they’ve gone, their lives have been centered on their church and their family, including two now-adult sons who live in the United States.
One of those sons, Jeremy Writebol, told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that the recent ordeal has been hard on his father. Nancy Writebol has been isolated in the couple’s Liberia home; she and David talk by phone but, given fears she might pass on Ebola to him, they can’t touch.
“It’s very difficult, and we feel the emotion of that,” Jeremy Writebol said of his parents’ physical separation.
Then, of course, there’s the inherent danger of Ebola. The World Health Organization reports that there have been at least 1,322 cases in recent weeks in West Africa, some 729 of which have resulted in death.
Even before it was known his mother would return to the United States, where she’ll get top-notch care at Emory, Jeremy Writebol took solace the mortality rate isn’t even higher.
“We feel like Mom has a chance,” he told CNN affiliate WCCB.