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Dallas Nurse Declared Ebola-Free, Released From NIH

BETHESDA, Md. (WJZ) -- Several new developments in the ongoing Ebola scare. As New York City scrambles to deal with its first case, the nurse being treated in Maryland is declared Ebola-free.

Derek Valcourt has more on Nina Pham's emotional statement to the people who treated her.

Doctors say five separate tests show she is cured. She is free to return to her home in Dallas, officially ending her frightening ordeal.

Nurse Nina Pham walked out of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda surrounded by doctors and her family. It was a far cry from the way she arrived in Maryland last week, covered in protective gear with a medical staff escort.

"I feel fortunate and blessed to be standing here today," Pham said.

Pham praised the medical staff who cared for her at the NIH in Bethesda and her coworkers at Texas Presbyterian Hospital, where she first contracted the illness while helping to care for Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, who later died from the deadly disease.

"I'd first and foremost like to thank God, my family and friends," Pham said Friday. "Throughout this ordeal, I've put my trust in God and my medical team. I'm on my way back to recovery even as I reflect on how many others have not been so fortunate."

She also gave a special thanks to Dr. Kent Brantly, who donated his own plasma containing Ebola antibodies after he himself recovered from the disease he caught while treating patients in West Africa.

"Of course I'm so incredibly thankful for everyone involved in my care from the moment I became ill and was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas up to today, my discharge from the Clinical Research Center of NIH," she continued.

Experts at the NIH say that may have contributed to Nurse Pham's speedy recovery, but it wasn't the only factor.

"It's anything from: she's young and very healthy, number one. Number two, she got into a health care system that was able to give her intensive care early," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIH.

Friday, the second nurse to contract the disease in Dallas, Amber Vinson, was also labeled Ebola-free. Doctors haven't yet said when she will be discharged from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

"Although I no longer have Ebola, I know that it may be awhile before I have my strength back," said Pham.

nina pham
White House handout

Before heading back to Dallas, Pham stopped at the White House for a brief conversation and hug with the president.

Pham says is excited to return home to Dallas and be reunited with her dog, Bentley. Animals can catch the Ebola virus. Bentley has been tested and found to be Ebola-free.

Pham has asked for her privacy as she returns to Dallas.

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