Cured of Ebola, Nina Pham Anxious to See Family, Dog and set to meet Obama


Nina Pham was the first person to catch Ebola on U.S. soil, and now, 13 days after testing positive, she has been declared free of the deadly disease.

Her first order of business will be to hug her dog, Bentley, she said Friday.

She invoked God and science in expressing gratitude for her ongoing recovery from a disease that has no established cure.

"I feel fortunate and blessed to be standing here today," she said. "Throughout this ordeal, I have put my faith in God and my medical team."

Nina Pham, 26, who grew up in a Vietnamese family in Fort Worth, Texas, graduated with a nursing degree in 2010 and just months ago received a certification in critical care nursing, which deals with life-threatening problems.

The Ebola experience, she said, was a "very stressful and challenging" time for her.

Without direct reference to the continent, she alluded to how Ebola has ravaged West Africa in an unprecedented outbreak that the World Health Organization says has caused almost 10,000 confirmed or probable cases of infection and 4,877 deaths as of this week.

"I am on my way back to recovery even as I reflect on how many others have not been so fortunate," she said.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest called Pham's case "a pretty apt reminder that we do have the best medical infrastructure in the world."

"The track record of treating Ebola patients in this country is very strong, particularly for those who are quickly diagnosed," Earnest said. "The fact that she has been treated and released I think is terrific news."
Nina Pham spends her days in isolation inside the same hospital where she contracted the Ebola virus working as a critical care nurse. She discusses her care plans with doctors, said a friend who has corresponded with her. She reads, video-chats with her family and keeps in touch with friends th
rough text messages and emails.

“She’s hopeful and just resting,” said the friend, Jennifer Joseph, who until recently worked with Ms. Pham at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. “Not letting the media and all this overwhelm her. She’s just having some time to herself, to be able to read and relax.”

Ms. Joseph called Ms. Pham, 26, a conscientious and careful nurse who double-checked her charts and never seemed to make a mistake, a description that deepens the mystery of how a nurse garbed in gloves, mask and other protective gear contracted the disease from a Liberian man who died last week of Ebola. On Monday, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that Ms. Pham’s positive test for Ebola over the weekend had prompted the agency to “substantially” rethink how it approaches infection control for health officials.

Doctors hope that antibodies in the blood of an Ebola victim may help fight the virus. Dr. Brantly also donated plasma to Ashoka Mukpo, a freelance cameraman being treated at Nebraska Medical Center, and to Dr. Rick Sacra, an American who was treated there in September. It is not clear whether the transfusions have been effective. Dr. Brantly could not donate to Mr. Duncan because they were not a blood type match, the hospital and Mr. Blume said.


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