Boy Who Died from Rare Brain Infection Gives Life

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The family of a Florida boy who died recently from a rare infection will donate his organs to give life to another youngster battling the same type of infection.

Twelve-year-old Zachary Reyna contracted a very rare brain infection while knee boarding in a ditch near his Southeast Florida home. An amoeba living in the water made its way to Zachary's brain and destroyed his brain tissue.

Amid the shock and tragedy, his supporters took to Facebook to express their hope and prayers.

"Zac is our miracle. His strong spirit will always be among us. He changed all of our lives, brought us closer to God..." his family said in a post thanking all his supporters.

Although only 28 cases of this type of infection have been reported in the last 10 years, there is another child who currently has it: Arkansas's Kali Harding was infected after playing at a water park. She is currently hospitalized in the Arkansas Children's Hospital.

Meanwhile, the community is raising money for her medical bills. Three years ago, another Arkansas child died from the infection after playing at the same water park in Little Rock where Kali contracted it. The park is now closed permanently.

Doctors say the type of infection Zachary and Kali contracted has a 97 percent fatality rate. The amoeba is found in warm, fresh water, such as lakes and ponds in the south that are shallow. It enters the body forcefully through the nose - like when you jump in the water. 

A person cannot be infected with the amoeba by drinking contaminated water, and it is not found in salt water. Health officials advise people to use a nose plug when swimming in fresh water recreational areas that are warm and shallow, or avoiding those areas altogether. 

Lots of people are praying for Kali and showing support to her family. She is showing signs of improvement and could end up as only the third person to survive this infection in the last 50 years.

Meanwhile, Zachary Reyna's family is inviting their Facebook supporters to pray as well.

One of their posts reads, "I believe that your son, Jesus Christ, died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life."

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Lorie  Johnson

Lorie Johnson

CBN News Medical Reporter

Lorie Johnson reports on the latest information about health and wellness. Since medicine is constantly changing, she makes sure CBN News viewers are up-to-date on what they need to know in order to live a healthy life.  Follow Lorie on Twitter @LorieCBN and "like" her at Facebook.com/LorieJohnsonCBN.