Patient Nina Pham is hugged by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases outside of National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Md., Friday, Oct. 24, 2014.
BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — A nurse who caught Ebola while caring for the patient diagnosed in Dallas was released from a hospital Friday, free of the virus, and was to meet later in the day with President Barack Obama at the White House.
Nurse Nina Pham said she felt "fortunate and blessed to be standing here today," as she left the National Institutes of Health's hospital outside Washington. She thanked her health care team in Dallas and at the NIH and singled out fellow Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly, who recovered after becoming infected in Liberia, for donating plasma containing Ebola-fighting antibodies as part of her care.
"Although I no longer have Ebola, I know it may be a while before I have my strength back," Pham, 26, said at a news conference. Doctors have cleared her to return home to Texas. After that, the White House announced Obama would meet with Pham in the Oval Office.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious disease chief at the NIH, gave Pham a hug and told reporters that five consecutive tests showed no virus left in her blood. Five tests is way beyond the norm, he stressed, but his team did extra testing because the NIH is a research hospital.
"She is cured of Ebola, let's get that clear," Fauci said. Pham arrived last week at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. She had been flown there from Texas Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.
Pham is one of two nurses in Dallas who became infected with Ebola while treating Thomas Eric Duncan, who died of the virus Oct. 8. The second nurse, Amber Vinson, is being treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, which on Friday issued a statement saying she "is making good progress" and that tests no longer detect virus in her blood. But Emory said it had no discharge date for Vinson yet, as she continues to receive supportive care.