By Christine Mai-Duc, Los Angeles Times (MCT)
Two weeks after she was hospitalized with a fever, Dallas nurse Nina Pham is now Ebola-free and has been released from the hospital.
“I feel fortunate and blessed to be standing here today,” Pham told reporters at a news conference outside a National Institutes of Health clinic in Bethesda, Md. “Throughout this ordeal, I have put my trust in God and my medical team.”
Pham, dressed in a black suit and light teal top, her nails and makeup done, looked healthy and was smiling as she stood next to her mother, sister and NIH doctors who helped bring her back to health. Many of them were wearing ribbons in the colors of Texas Christian University, a tribute to Pham’s nursing school.
“She as an individual is extraordinary, but she also represents the nurses and health care workers who put themselves on the line…to take care of people who are in such need,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the NIH’s Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Fauci said five consecutive Ebola tests have now shown that Pham’s blood is free of the Ebola virus.
While hospitalized, Pham was cared for by a special team of doctors and researchers, who provided general supportive care, but did not treat Pham with any experimental Ebola drugs, Fauci said.
Pham was able to communicate with family and friends by phone and Facetime.
“She taught me how to use Facetime,” Fauci said, to laughter. “I’m going to miss Nina a lot.”
Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, called it a “very special moment” for the institution.
Pham, 26, was the first of two nurses diagnosed with Ebola this month after taking care of Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.
Duncan, the first Ebola patient diagnosed on U.S. soil, died on Oct. 8.
Two days later, Pham went to the hospital with a fever and was put into isolation. Hospital officials upgraded Pham’s condition Tuesday from “fair” to “good.”
Nurse Amber Vinson, the third person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., is also free of the disease, Emory University Hospital says.
“We are overjoyed to announce that, as of yesterday evening, officials at Emory University Hospital and the Centers for Disease Control are no longer able to detect virus in her body. She has also been approved for transfer from isolation,” Vinson’s family said in a statement. “Amber remains under treatment within Emory’s Serious Communicable Diseases Unit.”
Although the virus may no longer be in Vinson’s blood, she will still require treatment to regain her strength, her mother, Debra Berry, noted. The family statement did not say when the 29-year-old might be released from the hospital.
News of Pham’s release from the hospital came as New York was dealing with its first diagnosed case.
A doctor who tested positive for Ebola was in stable condition at a New York hospital on Friday, as federal officials face heightening scrutiny over protocols for health care workers who have treated Ebola victims.
The ill doctor, Craig Spencer, 33, became feverish in his Manhattan apartment on Thursday and was diagnosed hours later at Bellevue Hospital. He returned to the United States on Oct. 17 after working with Ebola victims in Guinea, a West African country badly hit by Ebola.
AFP Photo/Alex Wong