H5N1 bird flu victim's nursing job was her 'dream'

The family of the Alberta woman who died of H5N1 issued a statement saying she was a hard-working, independent young woman who decided in high school she wanted to become a nurse.  

The Red Deer Hospital health-care worker, who was in her 20s, recently travelled to Beijing, China, but died Jan. 3 upon her return to Canada.

“She was an energetic woman who her co-workers have described as the bright light in the room. She was driven, and passionate about her work and most of all her family," said her family in a release.

While they are not ready to release her name or talk to the media, the family paid tribute to her as a beloved daughter and wife. 

She grew up in China before deciding in high school that she wanted to become a nurse, the family's statement said.

"The past 10 years have been dedicated to achieving this goal," the family said.

"She came to Canada on her own as a young student to study nursing at Red Deer College. She put herself through school, graduated and earned a job as a registered nurse at the Red Deer Regional Hospital. This was her dream, and she studied and worked extremely hard to achieve this."

Her family say she just wanted to help people and wanted a career that would allow her to provide for her family and support those she loved.

The woman got married a year and a half ago. 

"Together they created a happy life in Red Deer," the family said. 

She worked hard and had saved for a vacation, which she took in December 2013 with her mother.

“We are devastated by her death, and we request time to grieve in privacy,” said the family.

Alberta Health Services said the family is fully co-operating with health authorities investigating the case.

The World Health Organization is supporting the work of investigators in Canada and China who are trying to piece together how and where the woman was exposed to the virus.

Dr. Wenqing Zhang, head of the WHO's global influenza program, said Thursday the organization wants to get the big picture of the case.

A second focus for the WHO is on close contacts, Zhang said. The goal is to understand whether any human-to-human transmission occurred.

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