Nina Pham, the dedicated Dallas nurse who was infected with Ebola after treating Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola patient to die in the U.S., is a devout Catholic whose faith very much informed her work as a nurse.
WFAA.com is reporting that Pham, 26, is currently in stable condition after receiving a blood transfusion from Dr. Kent Brantly, the American doctor who survived Ebola.
Blood from survivors is thought to contain antibodies and proteins that may help victims to fight off the disease.
Meanwhile, Pham’s family and friends attended a special Mass for her on Monday night at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Fort Worth.
“I think 90 percent of what she is doing at the hospital is directly involved with her faith,” said Tom Ha, a friend of the family.
Ha, who is vice president of the Vietnamese American Community in Tarrant County, and a Bible teacher at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church where Pham’s family worships, is asking the faithful to pray for Pham.
“Please pray for her and her family, because we believe in the power of prayer,” Ha said, adding that the Pham family practically lives at their parish.
Nina’s mother attends the same Legion of Mary group as he does, and he believes this is the reason why Nina chose the career she did.
“Her mom is also working in the health care industry, too. They are very adamant about how to take care of other people.”
Ha said worshipers were in shock when word spread Sunday morning that Pham was the nurse who had contracted Ebola.
Thus far, experts can’t say how the infection occurred and are assuming that it was due to a breach of protocol.
According to CNN, Pham would have worn a mask, gown, shield and gloves as she and another 50 members of the Presbyterian Hospital of Texas staff attended to Duncan before his death on October 8.
“Something went wrong, and we need to find out why and what,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
CDC disease detectives interviewed the nurse several times and thought there were “inconsistencies” in the type of personal protective gear she wore and with the process used to put the gear on and remove it, CNN reports.
CDC chief Tom Frieden speculated on ways she might have become infected, such as when she removed her protective gear which might have allowed a bit of infected body fluid from Duncan to touch her. Pham may also have contracted the disease while in contact with the patient while he received kidney dialysis or respiratory intubation, both of which are considered high risk procedures.
“When you have potentially soiled or contaminated gloves or masks or other things, to remove those without any risk of any contaminated material … touching you and being then on your clothes or face or skin … is not easy to do right,” Frieden said.
In the meantime, Pham’s family and friends are determined to pray her through this ordeal.
“She’s like a hero to me,” Ha said about the young nurse who was willing to tend Duncan in spite of the risks. “In the community, we think she’s a hero.”
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