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Oct 14, 2014 12:26 PM

Texas nurse who contracted Ebola understood risks

The Associated Press

DALLAS (AP) 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 told The Associated Press Monday at Our Lady of Fatima church in Fort Worth, where about 30 people gathered for the regular evening Mass, where they 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.

Duncan died Wednesday at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, where Pham works.

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 doing well and 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.

The Rev. Jim Khoi, pastor at Our Lady of Fatima, said Ngoc Pham had spoken via video chat with her daughter and that she appeared to be in good spirits.

Pham's mother "says she's doing well," Khoi said. "She's calm. She trusts in God. And she asks for prayers."

Khoi described the family's relief that a recovered Ebola patient, Dr. John Brantly, provided a blood transfusion, calling it "golden blood."

Pham, a Texas Christian University nursing school graduate, was among about 70 staff members who cared for Duncan, according to medical records.


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