Ebola survivor, Indiana native Dr. Kent Brantly reflects on new documentary

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Indiana native and Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly is back in his hometown of Indianapolis for the premiere of a new documentary “Facing Darkness” at the Heartland Film Festival.

The film chronicles the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014 and Brantly’s miraculous survival, along with medical missionary Nancy Writebol. The two were diagnosed with Ebola and then brought back to the United States for treatment, in a story that made global headlines.

“In some ways, it feels like yesterday, and in a lot of other ways, it feels like all of this took place a lifetime ago,” said Brantly.

It’s been more than two years since Brantly, an Indianapolis native, fell ill with Ebola in Liberia. The IU School of Medicine graduate quickly became the face of the crisis but made a complete recovery.

In his toughest moments, he never forgot his Indiana roots.

“We were overwhelmed with support from all over the world but especially here at home in Indianapolis,” he said.

Now Samaritan’s Purse is rolling out a documentary detailing  the group’s efforts to  fight Ebola in West Africa, and the challenge when two Americans, Brantly and Writebol, became infected with the disease. Both were brought back to the United States for care, and both lived. In fact, Writebol went back to Liberia after her recovery.

Brantly, his wife, and two children went back to Liberia for a short time last year.

The documentary features Brantly and others in their own words, telling the story of the Ebola fight.

“It wasn’t easy to watch because it just brings back a lot of memories of a difficult time. But we know it had a happy ending,” said Krista Brantly, Kent’s sister.

The film’s producer said the story is still ongoing as those in West Africa try to move past the epidemic. The World Health Organization declared the outbreak over in January of 2016.

“For some, for the survivors, and for people that lost family members, this is with them every day of their lives,” said Arthur Rasco, producer and director.

Brantly said there is a larger message in the documentary and his story, and it all comes down to how we treat others, whether they’re our next door neighbors or a world away.

“We have to choose compassion over fear. We cannot let fear be the motivating force for the decisions we make in life, for the way we treat other people,” he said, “There are a lot of big things going on in our world right now and in our country. I think this story can help us navigate those other experiences as well, as we wrestle with the challenge of choosing compassion over fear, and treating other people out of a sense of respect and love, and not out of a sense of fear and self-preservation.”

Brantly, his wife Amber, and two children live in Fort Worth, Texas, where he’s gone back to full-time family medical practice.

“I’m not looking for the next news headline. I’m just looking to take care of people,” he said.

“Facing Darkness” will be in theaters across the country for one night only, on Thursday March 30, 2017.

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