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FORT WORTH A spokeswoman for the Samaritan'sPurse Christian relief group said Tuesday night she wished she had better news, but the condition of Dr.Kent Brantly at a Liberia hospital remains serious.

'We're all deeply concerned,' said Kent Smith, a family friend and elder at Southside Church of Christ in Fort Worth.

While the young physician fromFort Worth battles the very virus he was trying to treat inAfrica, it's abundantly clear it's not just his home church that's pulling for his recovery.

'I'm amazed and encouraged, and it is remarkable how big this story has become,' Smith said. 'I think Kent would want me to say it's a little regrettable that it took an American being infected to get this kind of attention, because African lives are as important as American lives... but I'm glad there is attention being called to the problem.'

How much attention? Consider this:

AFacebook group called 'Pray For Kent' had more than 5,000 'likes' one day after it launched. And an online petition on Change.org signed by more than 1,700 as of Tuesday night asks the U.S. government to consider medical evacuation for Brantly, though the risk of bringing Ebola out of Liberia appears too great right now.

'They have had trouble securing necessary permission to cross the countries necessary to get to Europe,' said Dr.David McRay of JPSHospital.

Later this week,Dr.Brantly's story will be featured in prime time on CNN's 'AndersonCooper 360.' Smith was interviewed on Tuesday.

'The questions he asked me were about what kind of a person is Kent, and what would motivate him to put himself in harm's way like this,' he said.

The answer, said Smith, is clear: A man who wants to help others more than he wants to help himself.

E-mail lzakalik@wfaa.com

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