Brantly Gives Blood to NBC News Freelancer with Ebola

The first American flown back to the U.S. for treatment of Ebola has donated blood to the most recent patient to return from West Africa with the disease, the Nebraska Medical Center said Wednesday.

The hospital said it called Dr. Kent Brantly, of Fort Worth, on Tuesday to tell him his blood type matches that of Ashoka Mukpo, a freelance video journalist who arrived at the medical center Monday.

Brantly was driving through Kansas City, Missouri, and was able to give blood locally that was flown to Omaha, the hospital said in a statement. Mukpo received his initial transfusion Wednesday.

Such transfusions are believed to help Ebola patients because a survivor's blood contains antibodies to fight the disease, which on Wednesday claimed the life of the only person ever diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S.

Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian who started showing symptoms during a visit to Dallas, had been in critical condition in a hospital isolation ward for several days before he died.

The death is a reminder of how nasty Ebola can be, said Dr. Phil Smith, the director of the Nebraska Medical Center's biocontainment unit who is helping treat Mukpo.

"While his death is sad, it's not surprising," Smith said. "Even in this country, the disease will have a high mortality rate."

Brantly, who was treated for Ebola in Atlanta, also donated blood to the first Ebola patient treated at the Nebraska hospital, Dr. Rick Sacra. Brantly and Sacra also happened to be friends from their missionary work.

Brantly was also contacted and asked if he would be willing to donate blood to Duncan if he were a match, according to Samaritan's Purse where Brantly is a practicing doctor again.

Samaritan's Purse told NBC News Brantly said "of course" he would be willing to donate if he was a match, Brantly then told Texas Health Presbyterian in Dallas his blood type.

Brantly never heard back so he assumed that meant his blood type did not match, according to Samaritan's Purse.

Mukpo is also receiving an experimental Ebola drug called brincidofovir and IV fluids to manage his electrolyte levels. That's similar to the treatment Sacra received during his three weeks at the Omaha hospital, but Mukpo is receiving a different experimental drug.

Smith said Mukpo was sick but stable Wednesday. He had been experiencing some vomiting and diarrhea Tuesday.

The World Health Organization estimates that the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed more than 3,400 people.

Mukpo became infected while working as a freelance cameraman for Vice News, NBC News and other media outlets. He returned to Liberia in early September to help highlight the toll of the Ebola outbreak.

Mukpo, who is from Providence, Rhode Island, previously spent two years in Liberia working for a nonprofit.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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