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Ebola is not always a death sentence.

On Aug. 21, Dr. Kent Brantly addressed reporters on his own two feet, with a full smile and his wife by his side. “Today is a miraculous day,” he said. “I am thrilled to be alive … God saved my life.”

Brantly, a health care worker for the organization Samaritan’s Purse, survived Ebola–the deadly disease that has taken the lives of more than 1,420 people in West Africa so far–and was discharged from Emory University Hospital. Only a couple of days earlier, Nancy Writebol, a fellow American who was also infected in Liberia, was released. Both Brantly and Writebol are virus-free and are likely immune after living through the vicious disease.

There is no vaccine or cure for Ebola, though the patients did receive a drug that is still in the early stages of development. Emory doctors hope that what they learned from treating the American pair can inform physicians in West Africa still battling the outbreak.


This appears in the September 08, 2014 issue of TIME.

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