'I held him in my arms': Nurses speak of heartbreak over Ebola patient's death in Dallas

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By RYAN GORMAN

Nurses who treated America's first Ebola patient have revealed the horrors and heartbreak of his final days.

Sidia Rose, John Mulligan and Richard Townshend cared for Thomas Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, in Dallas. All three admitted being scared, but said that they readily volunteered to be part of the Liberian's medical team.

Their moving account of his final days brought them to tears during interviews aired Sunday night on "60 Minutes."

"As a nurse, I understand the risk that I take every day I come to work and he's no different than any other patient that I've provided care for," Rose told reporter Scott Pelley. So, I wasn't going to say, "'No, I'm not going to care for him.'

"I didn't allow fear to paralyze me," she continued. "I got myself together. I'd done what I needed to get myself prepared mentally, emotionally, and physically, and went in there."

Rose told the newsmagazine she knew Duncan had Ebola before his test results came back positive. The evidence was overwhelming.

The first time when I went in and he vomited, I was standing in front of him, he was sitting on the commode, and there was just so much it went over the bag, it was on the walls, on the floors," she recalled.

"He was having so much diarrhea and vomiting that he, you know, she was constantly having to give him the little bags that we have for people to vomit into," said Townsend.

Rose said Duncan changed his story multiple times depending on who he spoke to.

The gravely ill man told her he had flown from Liberia after burying his pregnant daughter, she explained.

He then denied having ever said any of those things when confronted by health officials, said Rose.

The brave nurses wore only a gown, gloves, shoe covers and a face shield when Duncan first arrived, per Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.

Within days, and before the CDC required more complete protective gear, the hospital ordered full Hazmat suits for all involved.

Nurses Nina Pham and Amber Vinson are believed to have been exposed to the virus when Duncan was carried from the emergency room to intensive care, which had been reconfigured to hold only him.

Colleague John Mulligan, also a nurse, recalled Duncan's horrifying struggle being something he had never before come across.

"I've been in health care for nearly 20 years and I've never emptied as much trash as just from the waste of his constant diarrhea that he was having was remarkable," Mulligan told CBS.

"He was heavily sedated and he had tears running down his eyes, rolling down his face, not just normal watering from a sedated person," Mulligan continued. "This was in the form of tears."

The nurses caring for Duncan showed him the same compassion they would any other patient. They held his hand the entire time, talked to him, kept him company.

"I grabbed a tissue and I wiped his eyes and I said, 'You're going to be okay. You just get the rest that you need. Let us do the rest for you," Townsend recalled, tears beginning to stream down his face.

"Fifteen minutes later I couldn't find a pulse. And I lost him. And it was the worst day of my life," Townsend said. "This man that we cared for, that fought just as hard with us, lost his fight.

"His family couldn't be there. We were the last three people to see him alive," the devastated nurse continued. "And I was the last one to leave the room.

"I held him in my arms. He was alone."

All three spoke of the shockwaves sent through the hospital when Pham and Vinson became ill. The trio admitted they are still self-monitoring for symptoms.

"I would have nightmares, and still do, of my co-workers being infected and not being able to get to a hospital and treatment and dying," said Mulligan.

"It's like any traumatic event."

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'I held him in my arms': Nurses speak of heartbreak over Ebola patient's death in Dallas
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 08: A member of Bellevue's Hospital staff wears protective clothing during a demonstration on how they would receive a suspected Ebola patient on October 8, 2014 in New York City. If the patient was confirmed to be carrying the deadly virus the person would be sent to an isolation unit for treatment. The first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, Liberian Thomas Duncan, has died at a Dallas hospital, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 08: A member of Bellevue's Hospital staff wears protective clothing during a demonstration on how they would receive a suspected Ebola patient on October 8, 2014 in New York City. If the patient was confirmed to be carrying the deadly virus the person would be sent to an isolation unit for treatment. The first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, Liberian Thomas Duncan, has died at a Dallas hospital, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 08: Bellevue Hospital is viewed following a news conference on how the facility would receive a suspected Ebola patient on October 8, 2014 in New York City. If the patient was confirmed to be carrying the deadly virus the person would be sent to an isolation unit for treatment. The first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, Liberian Thomas Duncan, has died at a Dallas hospital, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 08: Members of Bellevue Hospital staff wear protective clothing as they demonstrate how they would receive a suspected Ebola patient on October 8, 2014 in New York City. If the patient was confirmed to be carrying the deadly virus the person would be sent to an isolation unit for treatment. The first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, Liberian Thomas Duncan, has died at a Dallas hospital, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 08: Members of Bellevue Hospital staff wear protective clothing as they demonstrate how they would receive a suspected Ebola patient on October 8, 2014 in New York City. If the patient was confirmed to be carrying the deadly virus the person would be sent to an isolation unit for treatment. The first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, Liberian Thomas Duncan, has died at a Dallas hospital, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 08: A member of Bellevue's Hospital staff wears protective clothing during a demonstration on how they would receive a suspected Ebola patient on October 8, 2014 in New York City. If the patient was confirmed to be carrying the deadly virus the person would be sent to an isolation unit for treatment. The first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, Liberian Thomas Duncan, has died at a Dallas hospital, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 08: Members of Bellevue Hospital staff wear protective clothing as they demonstrate how they would receive a suspected Ebola patient on October 8, 2014 in New York City. If the patient was confirmed to be carrying the deadly virus the person would be sent to an isolation unit for treatment. The first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, Liberian Thomas Duncan, has died at a Dallas hospital, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 08: Members of Bellevue Hospital staff wear protective clothing as they demonstrate how they would receive a suspected Ebola patient on October 8, 2014 in New York City. If the patient was confirmed to be carrying the deadly virus the person would be sent to an isolation unit for treatment. The first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, Liberian Thomas Duncan, has died at a Dallas hospital, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 08: A member of Bellevue's Hospital staff wears protective clothing during a demonstration on how they would receive a suspected Ebola patient on October 8, 2014 in New York City. If the patient was confirmed to be carrying the deadly virus the person would be sent to an isolation unit for treatment. The first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, Liberian Thomas Duncan, has died at a Dallas hospital, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 08: Members of Bellevue Hospital staff wear protective clothing as they demonstrate how they would receive a suspected Ebola patient on October 8, 2014 in New York City. If the patient was confirmed to be carrying the deadly virus the person would be sent to an isolation unit for treatment. The first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, Liberian Thomas Duncan, has died at a Dallas hospital, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 08: Members of Bellevue Hospital staff wear protective clothing as they demonstrate how they would receive a suspected Ebola patient on October 8, 2014 in New York City. If the patient was confirmed to be carrying the deadly virus the person would be sent to an isolation unit for treatment. The first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, Liberian Thomas Duncan, has died at a Dallas hospital, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
A member of the U.S army medical staff works in the newly constructed Ebola treatment centre in Bongcounty, on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia, Tuesday Oct. 7, 2014. Liberia has been among the hardest hit nations at the center of the long outbreak, which has killed more than 3,000 people. As of Friday, there had been 3,834 confirmed Ebola cases and 2,069 deaths in Liberia, according to the World Health Organization. Forty-four percent of those cases were reported in the past three weeks, a signal that the infectious disease is spreading. (AP Photo/Abbas Duller)
GBARNGA, LIBERIA - OCTOBER 07: U.S. Navy microbiologist Lt. Jimmy Regeimbal prepares to test blood samples for Ebola at the U.S. Navy mobile laboratory on October 5, 2014 near Gbarnga, Liberia. The U.S. now operates 4 mobile laboratories nationwide as part of the American response to the Ebola epidemic. The disease has killed more than 3,400 people in West Africa, according to the World Health Organization. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
A licensed clinician sanitizes his hands after a simulated training session on Monday, Oct. 6, 2014, in Anniston, Ala. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed an introductory training course for licensed clinicians. According to the CDC, the course is to ensure that clinicians intending to provide medical care to patients with Ebola have sufficient knowledge of the disease. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
GBARNGA, LIBERIA - OCTOBER 07: U.S. Navy microbiologist Lt. Jimmy Regeimbal prepares to test blood samples for Ebola at the U.S. Navy mobile laboratory of on October 7, 2014 near Gbarnga in Bong County of central Liberia. The U.S. now operates 4 mobile laboratories in Liberia as part of the American response to the Ebola epidemic. The disease has killed more than 3,400 people in West Africa, according to the World Health Organization. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
A volunteer in protective suit looks on after spraying disinfectant outside a home in Waterloo, some 30 kilometers southeast of Freetown, on October 7, 2014, prior to taking away from the house, with another volunteer, the body of a woman who died of Ebola. Dozens of British military personnel are due to fly to Sierra Leone next week to help build medical facilities to combat the Ebola epidemic, the defence ministry said on October 7. AFP PHOTO / FLORIAN PLAUCHEUR (Photo credit should read FLORIAN PLAUCHEUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Medical staff wearing protective clothing arrives at the apartment building of the Spanish nurse infected with Ebola in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014. Officials said a nurse and a nursing assistant have been placed under observation for Ebola in a Madrid hospital where a colleague became infected after working with two Spanish missionary priests who contracted the disease in West Africa and later died at the center. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
WUERZBURG, GERMANY - OCTOBER 07: A volunteer doctor who will travel to West Africa to help care for Ebola patients is disinfectet during training offered by the German Red Cross (DRK) on October 7, 2014 in Wuerzburg, Germany. Over 1,200 people across Germany have responded to a DRK call for volunteers, while the German armed forces, the Bundeswehr, has also asked for volunteers from its own ranks. Countries around the world are taking increasing precautions and committing resources in the battle against the deadly virus as the number of victims continues to climb. (Photo Timm Schamberger/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 05: A member of the Cleaning Guys Haz Mat clean up company takes a barrel of items out of the apartment where Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan was staying before being admitted to a hospital on October 5, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. The first confirmed Ebola virus patient in the U.S. was staying with family members at the Ivy Apartments complex before being moved for treatment at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. State and local officials are working with federal officials to monitor other individuals that had contact with the confirmed patient. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PAYNESVILLE, LIBERIA - OCTOBER 05: A Doctors Without Borders (MSF), health worker in protective clothing holds a child suspected of having Ebola in the MSF treatment center on October 5, 2014 in Paynesville, Liberia. The girl and her mother, showing symptoms of the deadly disease, were awaiting test results for the virus. The Ebola epidemic has killed more than 3,400 people in West Africa, according to the World Health Organization. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 09: Mary Moorer leads a class with workers from the union 32BJ, many of them airline cabin cleaners, terminal cleaners and wheelchair attendants, participate in a class on how to better protect themselves from infectious diseases in the wake of increased concerns around the Ebola virus on October 9, 2014 in New York City. The infectious disease training classes will be ongoing and teach members how to wear protective clothing and to safely handle potentially harmful body fluids they may come in contact with. It was announced on Wednesday that five airports across the United States will start screening passengers arriving from Ebola-affected countries in West Africa. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 09: Workers with the union 32BJ, many of them airline cabin cleaners, terminal cleaners and wheelchair attendants, participate in a class on how to better protect themselves from infectious diseases in the wake of increased concerns around the Ebola virus on October 9, 2014 in New York City. The infectious disease training classes will be ongoing and teach members how to wear protective clothing and to safely handle potentially harmful body fluids they may come in contact with. It was announced on Wednesday that five airports across the United States will start screening passengers arriving from Ebola-affected countries in West Africa. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 09: Workers with the union 32BJ, many of them airline cabin cleaners, terminal cleaners and wheelchair attendants, are handed protective gloves and a hand disinfectant as they participate in a class on how to better protect themselves from infectious diseases in the wake of increased concerns around the Ebola virus on October 9, 2014 in New York City. The infectious disease training classes will be ongoing and teach members how to wear protective clothing and to safely handle potentially harmful body fluids they may come in contact with. It was announced on Wednesday that five airports across the United States will start screening passengers arriving from Ebola-affected countries in West Africa. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 09: Workers with the union 32BJ, many of them airline cabin cleaners, terminal cleaners and wheelchair attendants, participate in a class on how to better protect themselves from infectious diseases in the wake of increased concerns around the Ebola virus on October 9, 2014 in New York City. The infectious disease training classes will be ongoing and teach members how to wear protective clothing and to safely handle potentially harmful body fluids they may come in contact with. It was announced on Wednesday that five airports across the United States will start screening passengers arriving from Ebola-affected countries in West Africa. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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