DENVER -- Controversial TB patient Andrew Speaker is a free man -- declared non-contagious, released from the hospital, and given medical clearance to fly on commercial aircraft without posing any risk to fellow travelers.
DENVER, July 26 -- Controversial TB patient Andrew Speaker is a free man -- declared non-contagious, released from the hospital, and given medical clearance to fly on commercial aircraft without posing any risk to fellow travelers.
However, the 31-year-old Atlanta lawyer, who stirred an international furor in May over his travel to Europe by commercial jet with what was believed to be extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB, later downgraded to the still-serious multidrug resistant form (MDR-TB), flew home to Georgia by air ambulance.
Speaker was discharged from National Jewish Medical and Research Center this morning, only nine days after he had surgery at the nearby University of Colorado Medical Center to remove the upper right lobe of his lung, which contained a tennis-ball size area of infection.
The surgery and weeks of antibiotic treatment have combined to eliminate any detectable evidence of infection, the hospital said.
"Treatment for Mr. Speaker went very well, and we were able to release him more quickly than we originally anticipated," according to Gwen Huitt, M.D., an infectious diseases specialist at National Jewish.
"Although we believe there are still a few tuberculosis bacteria in his lungs, ongoing antibiotic therapy should kill those," Dr. Huitt said. "We expect him to return to a full and active life."
"I really appreciate the quality of care I have gotten from all the people at National Jewish," Speaker said in a statement.
Speaker has been released from the Denver Public Health isolation order and ordered to seek medical attention and to continue directly observed therapy in his community. He is to check in with county health authorities in Georgia on Friday morning to begin two years of directly observed therapy.
He is under no other restrictions, and is not required to wear any kind of mask.
"Because he is no longer contagious, Mr. Speaker could have traveled by commercial airline back to his home state of Georgia," the hospital said. "But given the extraordinary attention he has received, everyone involved in the case agreed that it would be better to return home via air ambulance so as not to raise any undue public alarm."