Dallas nurse Nina Pham was declared free of Ebola and discharged from the hospital on Friday, just before she met with and hugged President Barack Obama in the Oval Office.
"I feel fortunate and blessed to be standing here today," Pham said in a brief statement outside the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, just before she headed to the White House. "I am on my way back to recovery, even as I reflect how many others have not been so fortunate."
Tests show that Pham, who contracted the virus while caring for the first patient diagnosed in the United States, has no more virus in her system, Dr. Anthony Fauci of NIH told reporters.
Pham thanked everyone who has been praying for her, and the medical workers who have been caring for her. "As a nurse, I have a special appreciation for the care I have received from so many," she said.
Pham, a nurse with Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, contracted Ebola while helping to care for Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S. She helped treat him from his first day in intensive care at until Oct. 7, the day before he died, NBC5 in Dallas reported.
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Pham was flown via charter flight Oct. 16 to Frederick, Maryland's municipal airport and taken by ambulance to the Clinical Center, a hospital located on the grounds of the 312-acre NIH campus in Bethesda.
In her statement Friday, Pham thanked Dr. Kent Brantly, the first American to recover from Ebola, for the "selfless act" of donating his blood, and she asked people to pray with her for her colleague Amber Vinson and for just-diagnosed Dr. Craig Spencer.
In advance of Pham's arrival at NIH last week, Fauci, one of the most highly respected immunologists in the world, announced he would be her admitting physician.
On Friday, while wearing the colors of Pham's nursing school, Texas Christian, Fauci called her a "courageous and lovely person," saying that she also represents the nurses and healthcare workers who put themselves on the line caring for sick patients.
He said they did not administer any experimental drugs to Pham during her treatment at NIH.
Fauci said she was doing well in Texas, and continued to do well at NIH. "We both supported her, so I can't pinpoint in one patient, what was the turning point," he said.
Fauci said it was not possible to pinpoint whether Brantley's donation of plasma was critical in her recovery and that more research is needed.
He said Pham's youth and general health were likely other factors that likely helped, as was the fact that she entered a hospital that was able to give her intensive care early.
Fauci said that Pham communicated with her family via FaceTime during her treatment -- and that she taught him how to use the program, too.
"I gave her my cell phone number just in case I get lonely," he quipped.
Pham's dog, Bentley, tested negative for the virus, Dallas officials announced Wednesday. Dallas Animal Services have been caring for him in isolation. Officials said they'll run one more test before the end of a 21-day quarantine period Nov. 1.
Pham said Friday she plans to return home to Texas and looks forward to reuniting with Bentley.
Pham's Texas hospital said the decision to transfer her to NIH was made in consultation with Pham and her family, adding that many of the medical personnel who would have usually worked in the intensive care unit were themselves "sidelined" for monitoring.
In an emotional video recorded shortly before she left Texas, Pham is shown in her hospital room speaking with a doctor and another medical worker, telling them, "Come to Maryland, everybody!" and "I love you guys."
As medical workers prepared to transport Pham to Dallas' Love Field last week, her coworkers at Texas Health Presbyterian held up signs to encourage her.