Brantly’s wife and children had been living with him in Liberia but flew home to the U.S. about a week ago, before the doctor started showing any signs of illness, said Melissa Strickland, a spokeswoman for Samaritan’s Purse.

“They have absolutely shown no symptoms,” she said.

A woman who identified herself as Brantly’s mother said the family was declining immediate comment when reached by phone in Indiana late Saturday.

Brantly is a graduate of Indiana University School of Medicine and went to Liberia as part of a two-year fellowship with Samaritan’s Purse, shortly after he completed his residency in family medicine at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas.

“The caliber of a person like that who says, ‘I’m going Africa, I’m going to where people need me the most,’ it really speaks to you,” Robert Earley, president and CEO of JPS Health Network, said Sunday. “It speaks to your heart.”

John Munro, pastor of Calvary Church in Charlotte, North Carolina — which sponsors the Writebols’ work as missionaries — said he told his congregation on Sunday the news.

Munro said Writebol’s husband David told an elder in the church via Skype on Saturday that she was very sick and he couldn’t even enter the same room with her.

Munro said some church members had offered several months ago to pay to fly the Writebols back to the U.S. because of the Ebola outbreak but they refused because they felt God had called them to work there. He broke the news to the congregation Sunday morning.

“These are real heroes — people who do things quietly behind the scenes, people with a very strong vocation and very strong faith,” Munro said.

He said the couple has worked as missionaries since the 1990s and previously worked in an orphanage in Zambia, adding they left for Liberia just under a year ago. Their hometown wasn’t immediately disclosed.

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