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Texas Nurse With Ebola Says She's 'Doing Well'

  • VOA News

This undated photo, obtained from Samaritan's Purse on July 30, 2014, shows Dr. Kent Brantly near Monrovia, Liberia.

This undated photo, obtained from Samaritan's Purse on July 30, 2014, shows Dr. Kent Brantly near Monrovia, Liberia.

The Texas nurse who became the first person to contract Ebola on U.S. soil said she is "doing well."

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas released a statement Tuesday on behalf of Nina Pham. She said she wants "to thank everyone for their kind wishes and prayers."

The hospital is the same one where Pham was infected while caring for a Liberian man who became the first person to die of Ebola in the United States.

The hospital's CEO said the doctors and nurses involved with Pham's treatment "remain hopeful." He said the hospital is "working tirelessly to help her in this courageous fight."

The optimistic outlook for Pham comes after it was revealed she received a blood transfusion from Kent Brantly, the American doctor who recovered from Ebola in the U.S. after contracting it in Liberia.

Blood transfusion

Christian aid group Samaritan's Purse confirmed the plasma donation from Dr. Kent Brantly, the first American to return from Liberia to be treated for Ebola. He had been working in that country on the international aid group’s behalf.

Pham is the third Ebola victim to receive Brantly's blood, which carries antibodies to the virus because he is a survivor. It was also given to aid worker Rick Sacra, now recovered, and U.S. journalist Ashoka Mukpo, who appears to be improving.

The 26-year-old was among about 70 people who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, the patient who died from Ebola last Wednesday.

Brantly reportedly offered to donate blood to Duncan, but their blood types did not match.

Duncan’s girlfriend, her 13-year-old son and two older nephews — all of whom shared an apartment with Duncan for days while he was ill — so far have shown no symptoms, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said on CNN, according to Reuters.

Officials also reportedly are watching a Dallas person with whom the nurse was in direct contact with while she was contagious. Some reports have indicated that person is her boyfriend. Her pet dog has also been taken to an undisclosed location for monitoring.

Devoted caregiver

Friends and family of the young Vietnamese American nurse say she is devoted to her profession, community and Roman Catholic faith.

Ha Thuc Thanh, a close family friend who has known Pham since she was a little girl, told VOA's Vietnamese service that although Pham is “clinically stable” and isolated for treatment, she is still keeping in touch with her mother. People in her family's community, he said, are in shock.

“Her parents are in disbelief," said Thanh, a religious education teacher at a largely Vietnamese Roman Catholic church in Fort Worth. "They could not believe what has happened. She is a nurse. How come she got infected? They do not really know what to do next. We are trying to help them.”

Pham's devoutly religious family, which is very involved in church activities, recently helped translate English materials about Ebola into Vietnamese, Thanh said. The translated materials are being used to spread information to others who are unaware of the deadly virus.

Critiques over care

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, on Sunday linked Pham's infection to a "breach of protocol."

"I apologize if people thought I was criticizing the hospital," Frieden said at a Monday news conference.

Officials have not identified what went wrong. The CDC is now monitoring all hospital workers who treated Duncan and say health officials must rethink the way they approach Ebola.

Some experts also question the CDC's assertion that any U.S. hospital should be able to treat an Ebola patient as the outbreak ravaging West Africa begins to spread globally. Given the level of training required to do the job safely, U.S. health authorities should consider designating a hospital in each region as the go-to facility for Ebola, they said.

"You don't scapegoat and blame when you have a disease outbreak," said Bonnie Castillo, a registered nurse and a disaster relief expert at National Nurses United, which serves as both a union and a professional association for U.S. nurses. "We have a system failure. That is what we have to correct."

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Vietnamese service. Trung Nguyen contributed to this report from Washington. Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

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