As of Tuesday night, Dallas nurse Amber Vinson no longer has the Ebola virus in her body, according to a statement from her family.
She is steadily regaining her strength and her spirits are high.
“Amber and our family are ecstatic to receive this latest report on her condition,” said Vinson’s mom, Debra Berry. “We all know that further treatment will be necessary as Amber continues to regain strength, but these latest developments have truly answered prayers and bring our family one step closer to reuniting with her at home.”
Her family and friends were stung by suggestions that Vinson, who volunteered to care for Thomas Eric Duncan – the first patient diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. – had been reckless in flying to Cleveland over the Columbus Day holiday for a weekend of wedding planning.
“She’s infected for doing something so selfless. We should be applauding her courage,” Vinson’s friend Emilia Sykes tells PEOPLE.
Vinson’s colleague Nina Pham was just four years out of nursing school and knew little about Ebola beyond what she had studied in class and read about in the 1994 best seller The Hot Zone when patient Duncan was brought to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital where she worked.
But, with her reputation for compassionate caring, she was tapped to care for Duncan, 42, a Liberian national who had unwittingly brought the virus to the U.S. when he arrived in Dallas on Sept. 20.
“It wasn’t just her job,” Pham’s former classmate at Texas Christian University, Lacey Mabry, tells PEOPLE. “It was her calling to help this person.” Duncan died Oct. 8.
Now, Pham is fighting for her life in a special isolation unit at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, after contracting the virus herself. In news that is sure to cheer her family, the NIH said Oct. 21 that her condition had been upgraded to good from fair.
Meanwhile, Pham’s church, Our Lady of Fatima in Fort Worth, Texas, is planning a fundraiser to help the family. Nina’s mom, Diana, “asks that we continue to pray.”
• With reporting by TARA FOWLER and DARLA ATLAS
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