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“I thought I was going to die,” American doctor recounts fighting Ebola virus to Oklahoma students

OKLAHOMA CITY - An Ebola survivor spoke at a local university about the life-altering experience on Monday.

Dr. Kent Brantly contracted the Ebola virus while serving as a medical missionary in Liberia in 2014.

He spoke about the experience at Oklahoma Christian University’s 66th Lectureship, which features dozens of speakers and concerts celebrating “To God’s Elect.”

"This was the hardest experience of my life," Dr. Brantly said.

In October 2013, Brantly and his wife Amber moved to Liberia in West Africa as medical missionaries.

"We were just there to live lives of quiet service and to take care of people in need," Dr.  Brantly said.

They were there when the Ebola outbreak came knocking on their front door.

In July 2014, Brantly was diagnosed with Ebola.

He was forced into isolation, sick with a high fever, body aches, dehydration and many other symptoms.

At the time of his diagnosis, the illness had a very low survival rate.

Friends and colleagues in hazmat suits took care of him, giving him fluids and antibiotics.

"It really got to the point where I thought I was going to die, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to continue to take my next breath," Dr. Brantly said.

He was the first person in the world to receive the experimental drug called ZMapp.

His health took a remarkable turn for the better and he was evacuated to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta Georgia.

He stayed there in isolation for another three weeks until he recovered and reunited with his family.

After Brantly recovered, he donated plasma to three other Americans who contracted Ebola, including a doctor, a nurse and a NBC freelance cameraman.  All three survived.

Brantly was named New York Time's Person of the Year in 2014.

He is now sharing his story across the globe.

He hopes to encourage people to follow God faithfully and to choose compassion over fear.

"There's so many things in this life that try to intimidate and produce fear in us and we have to choose a response of compassion rather than withdrawing in fear," Dr. Brantly said.

Brantley says his story shows the importance of programs like Doctors without Borders in underdeveloped countries.

While he was able to recover from the virus due to specialized treatment in the United States, more than 11,000 Africans died from Ebola because of a lack of treatment options.

Brantly currently lives in Fort Worth, TX with his family where he serves as a Medical Mission’s Adviser with Samaritan’s Purse.