Ebola Patient Nina Pham Receives Blood From Survivor Dr. Kent Brantly
The second patient to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, nurse Nina Pham, received a transfusion from an Ebola survivor this week, as experimental drugs to treat the highly fatal virus remain scant. Pham, a 26-year-old Dallas resident, contracted the virus while providing care for Thomas Eric Duncan, the 42-year-old Liberian national who died on October 8 at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, nearly two weeks after he arrived in the U.S. from West Africa. According to the Associated Press, Pham is one of 70 people who treated Duncan while he was hospitalized.
Pham, who was identified as the latest U.S. Ebola patient on Monday by family members, received a plasma transfusion from Dr. Kent Brantly, the humanitarian doctor who contracted the virus in August while serving in Sierra Leone. Brantly, along with his infected colleague Nancy Writebol, received the experimental drug ZMapp, and beat the virus while undergoing treatment at Emory Hospital in Atlanta.
So far, Brantly has donated his blood to two other Ebola patients, including to NBC News cameraman Ashoka Mukpo. He didn't give any blood to Duncan because their blood types weren't a match, the Associated Press reports.
A 2010 graduate of the nursing program at Texas Christian University, Pham's role in treating Duncan is still unknown at this time. Dr. Dan Varga, Chief Clinical Officer at Texas Health Presbyterian, said in a statement that Pham had been "under the self-monitoring regimen" outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, because of her "involvement in caring for patient Thomas Eric Duncan during his inpatient care that started on September 28."
CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said in a Sunday news conference that both the interior and exterior of Pham's apartment will be decontaminated by special hazmat crews. Both Frieden and Texas Health Presbyterian officials confirmed that Pham was in stable condition as of Sunday, and there's been no change to her health status so far.
The CDC director, however, stirred some fears — and invited a bit of controversy — when he said on Sunday that the latest infection indicated a "breach of protocol." Frieden released a statement on Monday clarifying his words and saying he feels "awful" a nurse became infected:
I spoke about a "breach in protocol" and that's what we speak about in public health when we're talking about what needs to happen and our focus is to say, would this protocol have prevented the infection? And we believe it would have.
But, some interpreted that as finding fault with the hospital or the health care worker. And, I'm sorry if that was the impression given. That was certainly not my intention. People on the front lines are really protecting all of us. People on the front lines are fighting Ebola.
"[Pham] was there trying to help the first patient survive and now she has become infected," Frieden added.
On Tuesday, an unidentified United Nations worker died from Ebola in a German hospital. BBC News reports that the UN worker, who contracted the virus while working as a medical officer in Liberia, received experimental drugs while he hospitalized in Leipzig. The man is the second UN worker to die during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, which has killed more than 4,000 people, according to the World Health Organization.
The hospital released this statement on Tuesday:
Despite intensive medical measures and maximum efforts by the medical team, the 56-year-old UN employee succumbed to the serious infectious disease.
Images: Getty Images (2)