Ebola is a terrible disease, and in West Africa, where the virus is still spreading rapidly, things are worse than ever.
Even though there is no cure for Ebola, it’s important to remember that do people survive. With better access to treatment, especially in the earliest stages of the disease, many more will live through the epidemic.
Survivors face challenges of their own. They are frequently shunned by communities that fear Ebola, and many have lost family and friends to the virus.
But survivors might also be the key to stopping Ebola.
Experimental treatments using antibodies from survivors’ blood will soon be available and may help others live through the ordeal. Some patients have already receive blood transfusions from survivors. That same blood could play an important role in vaccine development.
Since survivors are immune to the virus once they have fought it off, some of those who live through Ebola are also joining the fight against the disease by training as healthcare workers. They will be essential in the weeks and months to come.
We’ve collected some images that show both the joy of those who survive and their sadness as they reflect on the loved ones they have lost.
Jeremra Cooper, 16, wipes sweat from his face. The eighth grader lost six family members to Ebola but recovered from the disease after spending a month in a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) center in Liberia.
In this photo, a group of survivors attend a ceremony celebrating their discharge from a clinic in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Varney Taylor, 26, thinks he got sick originally while carrying his aunt's body after she succumbed to Ebola in Liberia.
Many survivors have lost people close to them, but their discharge from a MSF clinic is still an occasion to celebrate.
Construction worker Mohammed Wah, 23, thinks he first got sick caring for his nephew. Here he stands in the low-risk section of a MSF clinic in Liberia.
Sontay Massaley, 37, smiles as she leaves a MSF clinic in Paynesville, Liberia. She's returning to her three healthy children after spending eight days in treatment.
Survivor William Pooley of the UK talks with Sierra Leone's High Commissioner to Britain and the British Foreign Secretary at an international conference on how to stop the spread of the disease in Sierra Leone. He's a British nurse who caught the virus in Sierra Leone. Now that he's recovered he is there again, on the front lines.
Healthcare worker Marvin Kai was originally sickened after treating patients, but is now Ebola free and back living with his wife and son in Monrovia, Liberia.
A mother and child put their handprints next to the prints of other survivors at a MSF clinic in Liberia.
Sulaiman Kemokai, 20, spent 25 days in treatment in Sierra Leone. His joints are stiff now, but the virus is gone from his system.
Philip Ireland is not only an Ebola survivor, he's also an emergency room doctor in Liberia. Here, he celebrates with others who lived.
Kent Brantly is a missionary doctor who got sick in Liberia and was the first person to receive the experimental drug ZMapp. He was transferred to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta and survived. He has since donated his blood to other patients.
Benetha Coleman, 24, attended a survivors' meeting at a MSF clinic in Paynesville, Liberia on Oct. 16.
In this training session, an Ebola survivor participating in a two-week course pretends to vomit to help other newly-trained healthcare workers prepare to deal with sick patients. Many of these new workers will staff treatment centres being built by the US military in Liberia.
Emanuel Jolo, 19, thinks he got sick while preparing his father for his funeral. Here he's getting ready to leave a clinic in Liberia on Oct. 16.
Both James Mulbah, 2, and his mother, Tamah Mulbah, 28, are preparing to leave a clinic in Liberia after surviving the virus.
This 5-year-old, Abrahim Quota, is given a letter to confirm that he has recovered from the virus that took his parents. After leaving this clinic in Monrovia he will stay with relatives.
Ami Subah, 39, is a midwife who got sick after she delivered a baby from a sick mother. Subah survived the disease, but the stigma of having been infected has kept her from work.
On Oct. 23, doctors announced that Amber Vinson, a Texas nurse who was sickened while treating an Ebola patient in Dallas, has no trace of Ebola left in her system.
Ebola survivors Anthony Naileh, 46, and his wife Bendu Naileh, 34, prepare to leave a MSF clinic together. She is a nurse and got sick treating patients, and then passed the virus on to her husband. Happily, both lived.
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