As you know, an outbreak of Ebola is currently spreading around the globe. Over 8,000 infections have been confirmed, and over 4,000 of those infected have died. While the overwhelming majority of the cases are in the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, more infections or suspected infections are popping up in other countries including Spain, the United States, Germany, and Australia.
Doctors and health organizations around the world are scrambling to find a solution to the epidemic. So far, the search to find a medicine that will successfully treat and heal someone infected with Ebola has been futile. However, there is one method of treatment that has been successful in healing Ebola victims — and that is a blood transfusion from someone who has already recovered from the deadly virus.
One of the first Ebola victims to be treated in the United States was Dr. Kent Brantly, a medical missionary who contracted the virus while working with Samaritan’s Purse in Liberia. Before he returned to America, he received a blood transfusion from a 14-year-old Liberian boy who had been cured of Ebola. A few days after Brantly began treatment at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, he was declared virus free.
In the weeks that followed his recovery, Dr. Brantly donated his blood to three other Americans who had contracted Ebola. One of them has already recovered, and the other two are expected to recover as well. Doctors and researchers are now looking into how the success of blood transfusions from Ebola survivors can be parlayed into a wide-spread solution for the Ebola epidemic.
Here is the reason a blood transfusion works so well against Ebola: Plasma is a component of blood that contains virus-fighting proteins called antibodies. According to Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, When confronted with a virus, the immune system creates antibodies to specifically target that virus, kill it and keep it from coming back. Once a person has antibodies, they stay in their blood for life. If the Ebola antibodies found in an Ebola survivor’s blood can be imported into struggling Ebola patient’s body, those antibodies can theoretically help the patient’s immune system fight off the deadly virus. “What those antibodies do is bind to the virus. They find the virus and bind to it and prevent it from multiplying further.” So far, it appears as though a blood transfusion is the only effective and proven way to save people infected with Ebola.
When I read Dr. Schaffner’s explanation, I was reminded of an old hymn titled, “There is Power in the Blood.” Of course, that hymn is not talking about how a survivor’s blood can help save a victim of a disease. Rather, it is talking about how the blood of Jesus Christ is powerful enough to cleanse us from our sins and give us eternal life. Continue Reading…