"Today is a miraculous day," Dr. Kent Brantly said at a Thursday news conference in Atlanta with Emory University Hospital staff members. "I am thrilled to be alive, to be well and to be reunited with my family." The hospital had announced that he was being discharged Thursday.
The other patient, Nancy Writebol, was released Tuesday and is choosing not to make public comments, the hospital said.
Emory's staff is confident that their discharges pose "no public health threat," said Dr. Bruce Ribner, director of Emory's Infectious Disease Unit, adding that Writebol requested her discharge not be publicly announced at the time.
As she walked out of her isolation room, Writebol said, "To God be the glory," Brantly said at the news conference. "We are tremendously pleased with Dr. Brantly and Mrs. Writebol's recovery," Ribner said.
"What we learned in caring for them will help advance the world's understanding of how to treat Ebola infections and help, hopefully, to improve survival" in other parts of the world, Ribner said at the news conference.
"There may be some recovery time because this is a fairly devastating disease," but in general, patients without organ damage are expected to "make a complete recovery," he said.
There is strong epidemiological evidence that after an Ebola patient survives the disease, the survivor becomes immune to that particular strain of Ebola, Ribner told reporters Thursday.
Both patients were evacuated from Liberia this month, in a plane specially equipped with an isolation tent, and accompanied by medical staff outfitted in head-to-foot protective clothing. The plane was able to take only one patient at a time and made two trips. The patients were taken to an isolation unit at Emory.
Asked about the role that an experimental serum played in the recoveries, Ribner said doctors "do not know whether it helped them, whether it made no difference," or whether it might have delayed their recovery.
Ribner said he also did not know whether Brantly was helped by a blood transfusion he received from a young Ebola survivor in Liberia.