DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The second Dallas nurse to contract the Ebola virus while caring for a patient with the disease is out of the hospital.
Amber Vinson spoke for the first time publicly since being diagnosed with the disease. “I am so grateful to be well,” she said, while surrounded by family members and a team of Emory University Hospital nurses and doctors at a Tuesday afternoon news conference.
Vinson thanked God and credited her faith for keeping her strong during her illness. She thanked her grandparents, aunt and uncle for visiting her at Emory regularly since she was transferred there on October 15, a day after her diagnosis was confirmed at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.
During her brief statement, Vinson also thanked her mother and fiancé, who were not allowed to travel to Atlanta and have been kept isolated since news of her diagnosis. “Even though you couldn’t be close, Mom and Derrick, I want to express my love and sincere thanks,” she said.
Vinson also offered gratitude to Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, both Ebola survivors and former patients at Emory, for donating their plasma to her and other patients, who have also successfully recovered from the disease.
“We have determined that Miss Vinson has recovered from her infection with the Ebola virus,” said Dr. Bruce Ribner of Emory University Hospital. He added she can return to her family, her community and her life without any concerns of transferring virus to anyone else.
While she celebrated her recovery from Ebola, Vinson spoke about the many others, on the other side of the world, who have been touched by the deadly disease. “I ask that we not lose focus of the thousands of families who continue to labor under the burden of this disease in West Africa.”
Vinson did not answer any questions and asked for privacy for her family and herself as she prepared to return home to Texas. At the end of the news conference, Vinson gave a hug and exchanged words with each of the health care workers in attendance. A CareFlite aircraft will transport Vinson and her family from Atlanta to North Texas.
Vinson is one of two Dallas nurses who contracted the Ebola virus while caring for Thomas Duncan, the first patient to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. The other nurse, Nina Pham, was released from the National Institutes of Health in Maryland last week. Duncan died of Ebola at the hopsital on October 8.
According to medical records, Vinson attended to Duncan on September 30, the day that he tested positive for the Ebola virus. She and Pham were both wearing protective gear — including a hazardous materials suit and face shield — but Duncan’s bodily fluids were highly infectious at the time.
Both of the nurses had originally received treatment at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, where they work, prior to being moved to the more experienced medical facilities out of state.
Vinson began showing possible symptoms of the Ebola virus while visiting family in Ohio. The 29-year-old nurse boarded a Frontier Airlines flight back to North Texas with a low-grade fever, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Medical officials reportedly told her that she was safe to fly, although she was put into isolation in Dallas just a day later.
Texas Health Resources released this statement about Vinson’s release and return to North Texas:
“Today is a joyful day at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. Amber Vinson is free of Ebola and coming home. Like many of her colleagues, she made a brave choice to volunteer and provide care for a critically ill Ebola patient. That led to a personal fight against the disease, and she is to be commended for her strength and courage.
Amber and her fellow caregiver, Nina Pham, are an inspiration for healthcare workers nationwide, and we at Texas Health Dallas could not be more proud of them.”
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