Jubilantly declaring that “hope just went up a notch today,” Dr. Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said Friday that the first person infected with Ebola in the United States was now virus free.
Nina Pham, a 26-year-old nurse who was infected while caring for a Liberian patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, headed from Bethesda to Washington to meet with President Obama at the White House, and then planned to return home to Dallas.
In brief remarks to reporters outside the N.I.H. Clinical Center in Bethesda, Ms. Pham beamed as she thanked God, her family, and her friends. Flanked by her sister and her mother, she called the infection “very stressful and challenging,” and said she was looking forward to reuniting with her dog, Bentley.
“I believe in the power of prayer, because I know so many people all over the world have been praying for me,” Ms. Pham said. “I join you now in prayer for the recovery of others.”
Ms. Pham said she was especially grateful to Dr. Kent Brantly, an American physician and an Ebola survivor, who donated plasma as part of her care.
Some scientists believe that the blood of people who survive Ebola could be useful in treating those infected with the virus, but Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it was not clear whether the donated plasma was a factor in Ms. Pham’s recovery.
“It’s virtually impossible to say that this is the thing that did it,” Dr. Fauci said.
He said that two factors in Ms. Pham’s recovery appeared to be that she was young and healthy, and that soon after she was infected she was able to get intensive care.
Dr. Fauci said that it might take some time for her to recover her full strength, but that she was now free to return to Texas and “resume a normal, healthy, and happy life.”