WATCH ABOVE: Dr. Kent Brantly reacts to his release after being treated for Ebola.
TORONTO – He went to West Africa to fight against the world’s largest Ebola outbreak in history but after seven weeks of caring for patients, Dr. Kent Brantly contracted the deadly disease.
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Now in recovery, the U.S. doctor shared his gripping first-person account of testing positive for Ebola and fighting for his life in a candid TIME magazine post.
Ultimately, he says going through the disease put him in his dying patients’ shoes.
“Ebola is a humiliating disease that strips you of your dignity. You are removed from family and put into isolation where you cannot even see the faces of those caring for you due to the protective suits – you can only see their eyes,” Brantly wrote in the post.
“That is why we tried our best to treat patients like our own family. Through our protective gear we spoke to each patient, calling them by name and touching them. We wanted them to know they were valuable, that they were loved, and that we were there to serve them,” he said.
The day he woke up with Ebola, he had a fever that steadily climbed throughout the day. He was nauseous, he had diarrhea. The doctor decided to stay home from work. At the time, he was working with Samaritan’s Purse in Liberia as a medical missionary with his wife, Amber.
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Once rapid malaria tests returned with a negative, Brantly knew his ailment was worse off. He called in his team leader and his peers came to his home in full protective gear.
On the fourth day of his sickness, he received the bad news.
“Kent, buddy, we have your test results. I am really sorry to tell you that it’s positive for Ebola,” he recalled in the TIME piece.
Brantly’s wife and their two kids left for a family wedding in Texas just days before he contracted the disease. He was supposed to meet them a week later.
Instead he had to break the bad news. “Though the rest of my family wept, I felt strangely at peace. God blessed me with that peace that surpasses understanding,” Brantly said.
Perhaps he accepted his fate, Brantly alludes. While battling the outbreak in Monrovia, his team had only one survivor. He says he was at a disadvantage knowing that the odds were stacked against him.
The doctor is cognizant that his ailment made international headlines. That was especially the case after he insisted that the single vial of ZMapp, the experimental treatment that made its way to West Africa, be used on his colleague Nancy Writebol.
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Writebol was further along in the disease, he says plainly. “I was not trying to be a hero; I was making a rational decision as a doctor.”
When he finally received his dose of the treatment, it was enough to stabilize his condition so he could be flown to Atlanta. At that point, his fever was out of control, his heart was racing and his lungs were filled with fluid.
Under the care of doctors at Emory University Hospital, he recovered from the disease. He saw his family for the first time and spoke to them over the intercom – it’s when he cried for the first time, he recalled.
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“I had not been sure I would ever see them again. When I finally recovered, the nurses excitedly helped me leave the isolation room, and I held my wife in my arms for the first time in a month,” he said.
Both Brantly and Writebol are in recovery. A third American doctor is now fighting the disease.
The death toll in the outbreak surpassed 1,900 this week, according to the World Health Organization. More than 3,000 people have been infected in Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Liberia and Guinea.
Brantly says he knows he can’t return to the region for now. He’s calling on health officials around the world to respond to the crisis.
“Ebola has changed everything in West Africa. We cannot sit back and say, “Oh, those poor people.” We must think outside the box and find ways to help,” he said.
“This is a global problem and it requires the action of national governments around the world. We must take action to stop it–now.”
WATCH: Another American doctor infected with Ebola being treated in Nebraska
Read the full story on TIME here.