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Posted: Friday, February 20, 2009 10:00 pm

Who: Espen and Kami Jensen, and their kids, Benjamin, Marissa, Dominic Wells and Jason Henderson

Destination: Las Vegas (picture is Hoover Dam)

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Nina Pham, the Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas nurse diagnosed with Ebola, is now “virus-free,” according to the National Institutes of Health in Maryland. And officials also confirm that her colleague Amber Vinson has also tested free of the disease.

Nina is “cured of Ebola,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “Let’s get that clear. That’s for sure.”

And it was: Pham, dressed in a blue business suit and a turquoise top, hugged Fauci and delivered a brief statement to the media upon her release.

“Throughout this ordeal, I have put my trust in God and my medical team,” said Pham. “I am on my way to recovery even as I reflect on how so many others haven’t been so fortunate.” She also thanked Fort Worth doctor Kent Brantly, who donated some of his plasma, for his “selfless” act.

Pham will meet with President Barack Obama at the White House before her return to Dallas. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said no extra precautions would be taken to protect the president. A “clean bill of health” from the NIH is good enough, he said.

Pham said she felt “fortunate and blessed to be standing here today,” praised the care she received in Dallas and Maryland, asked for her privacy and said all she really wants to do is come home and be reunited with 1-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Bentley, who has also tested Ebola-free and will likely be released from the former Naval Air Station following one more specimen test at the end of his 21-day quarantine period.

In a statement released after the press conference, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said that despite the dog’s quarantine, Pham will be able to “visit, hold and play with him tomorrow.”

Fauci said workers administered five separate tests, and she tested negative each time. He also said Pham was not given an experimental drug.

In Texas, Health Commissioner David Lakey said Pham’s recovery is proof of the excellent care she received, both in Maryland and in Dallas.

“Ms. Pham’s recovery is a testament to her perseverance in the face of the disease, the excellent care she has received and the support she had of so many here in Texas and across the nation,” he said in a written statement.

It remains unclear when she will return to Dallas or how. Fauci said he did not want “hordes” to descend upon someone in need of privacy and time to recover. He didn’t know how long it would take for her to regain her strength. But, he said, “she’s such an incredible lady she’s going to do it quickly.”

“This is a great day for the city of Dallas,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told The Dallas Morning News. “She’s a hero to all of us.” He, like Fauci and Pham, praised the care Pham received at Presbyterian before she was sent to Maryland last week.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry was also among those celebrating Friday’s news.

“I ask all Texans to join me in wishing her a full and speedy recovery,” said Perry in a prepared statement. “We thank her for her heroism and selflessness in the battle against Ebola. Rest assured, Texas will not let our guard down in doing everything necessary to protect our state and our citizens from this dangerous disease.”

(EDITORS: BEGIN OPTIONAL TRIM)

“The Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas family is thrilled that Nina Pham is Ebola-free and on her way home,” Texas Health Resources CEO Barclay Berdan said in a prepared statement. “Her colleagues and friends eagerly look forward to welcoming her back. Her courage and spirit, first in treating a critically ill Ebola patient and then in winning her own battle against the disease, has truly inspired all of us.”

“I am so thrilled for Nina, her parents Peter and Diana, her sister Cathy and everyone who has been praying and pulling for this ‘hometown healthcare hero,’” said Jenkins. “Nina has been through a lot and deserves private time to fully recuperate. I’m excited to welcome her home and I know Bentley will be glad to see her. … I’d also like to thank the staff at both Presbyterian Hospital and the National Institutes of Health for their care of Nina and for helping her return to North Texas Ebola free.”

Tom Ha, a friend of Pham’s family who has attends a Vietnamese Catholic in east Fort Worth church with them, was relieved to hear the news.

“We’re so excited in our community that she is Ebola-free,” Ha said. “We hope that she can come home soon so we can all welcome her. This will give hope to families and other victims in the future — all over the world.”

(END OPTIONAL TRIM)

Moments after Pham’s press conference, Emory University Hospital and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided an update on the condition of Amber Vinson, who they said in a joint statement is “making good progress in her treatment for Ebola virus infection.” According to Emory officials, “tests no longer detect virus in her blood. She remains within Emory’s Serious Communicable Diseases Unit for continued supportive care. We do not have a discharge date at this time.”

Both Vinson and Pham contracted Ebola while treating Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola diagnosis in the United States. He died at Presbyterian on Oct. 8.

Staff writer Eva-Marie Ayala contributed to this report.

———

©2014 The Dallas Morning News

Visit The Dallas Morning News at www.dallasnews.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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Topics: t000002828,t000419702,t000002838,t000002827,t000412858,g000362661,g000066164,g000065562,g000065582

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