A Texas nurse who contracted Ebola while caring for a Liberian man who later died of the disease understood the risks and tried to reassure her family that she would be safe, a family friend said.
When Nina Pham's mother learned her daughter was caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, Pham told her: "Mom, no. Don't worry about me," Christina Tran said Monday at Our Lady of Fatima church in Fort Worth, where about 30 people gathered for the regular evening Mass and offered extra prayers for Pham.
But despite wearing protective gear that included gowns, gloves, masks and face shields while caring for Duncan, the 26-year-old nurse became the first person to contract the disease within the United States.
On Tuesday, Pham said through a statement released by Texas Presbyterian Hospital Dallas that she is "doing well," and she thanked supporters for their kind wishes and prayers. It was her first statement since contracting the disease.
The hospital CEO issued a statement saying that the medical staff is "working tirelessly to help her in this courageous fight. The doctors and nurses involved with her treatment remain hopeful."
Duncan died Wednesday at the same hospital, where Pham was among about 70 staff members who cared for Duncan, according to medical records. Authorities have said they do not know how Pham was infected, but they suspect some kind of breach in the hospital's protocol.
Tran said she had spoken a few times to Pham's mother, Ngoc Pham, since she found out Sunday that Nina Pham had been infected with the virus. She said Pham's parents are praying for their daughter's recovery.
Pham's parents live in Fort Worth, where they are part of a closely knit, deeply religious community of Vietnamese Catholics. She is a Texas Christian University nursing school graduate.
The Rev. Jim Khoi, pastor at Our Lady of Fatima, said Pham appeared to be in good spirits when she spoke to her mother, Ngoc Pham, via video chat.
Pham's mother is "calm," Khoi said. "She trusts in God. And she asks for prayers."
Khoi described the family's relief that a recovered Ebola patient, Dr. Kent Brantly, provided a blood transfusion, calling it "golden blood."
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