Zachary Reyna alive but brain-dead from amoeba

Zachary Reyna

Zachary Reyna

— Family members of a 12-year-old boy who was infected by a rare and deadly amoeba say he's on a ventilator.

Zachary Reyna has fought the brain infection for weeks. Family members say he was infected while knee boarding with friends in a ditch near his family's LaBelle home Aug. 3.

His uncle, Homer Villarreal, says doctors say his brain isn't showing any activity.

Family members and friends were visiting Reyna on Sunday at Miami Children's Hospital.

A post on the Facebook page the family set up said his parents planned to donate his organs.

Infections from the amoeba are rare. Twenty-eight infections were reported in the U.S. from 2003 to 2012.

POSTED EARLIER

Zachary Reyna, the 12-year-old LaBelle boy who has been battling a brain-eating amoeba has died, according to a message posted on a Facebook page established to monitor his status.

"At 1:54 today there was a crack of a bat heard. Zac took it deep. My boy hit his homerun. One that I'll never forget. I'm so proud of him. He left it all on the field and I can't ask for more. He did so well that he'll be the starting 2nd baseman for The Lords team. I sit back and ask myself, what would make me prouder; my son playing pro ball, being a successful business man or being known for changing and saving thousands of lives for The Lord. It's a no brainer. I love The Lord for giving me such a beautiful son who He chose to change myself, my family and the world for better. Thank you Jesus. It hurts, but you have given my family love and peace. We couldn't be so strong today without you. I hope that Zac continues to touch people and his time here is remembered forever. We thank everyone for being so caring and I know it's going to be tough on us at first, but we have an awesome support team back home and we are grateful for that. The battle is over for Zac but he won the war."

Earlier this week, family reported that antibiotics had defeated the infection, and tests showed negative activity from the amoeba. But they cautioned that Zac, a youth baseball player, had likely suffered extensive brain damage.

Zac remains on a ventilator at Miami Children’s Hospital and his parents have decided to donate his organs, according to the website.

“Even though Zac has passed, he will still be saving many lives,” a post reads.

Zac contracted the brain-eating amoeba — Naegleria fowleri — while kneeboarding with friends in a flooded ditch on Aug. 3. The amoeba can cause a rare brain infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) that destroys brain tissue and is usually fatal, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Experts say the amoeba gets up the nose and travels to the brain where it causes PAM, which destroys brain tissue. It’s a medical mystery why some people who swim in amoeba-containing water get the fatal nervous system condition while many others don’t.

Initial symptoms usually start within one to seven days and may include headache, fever, nausea and vomiting. The disease progresses rapidly, and other symptoms can include stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, seizures and hallucinations.

There have been no cases on record of the freshwater amoeba infection in Collier or Lee counties, health officials said.

Zac’s family thanked God and Zac’s supporters on the Facebook page. The post announcing Zac’s death had more than 1,100 comments Saturday night.

“The battle is over for Zac,” the family wrote, “but he won the war.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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