12-Year-Old Boy Battles Brain-Eating Amoeba As Donations Pour In

zachary reynaPoor Zachary Reyna was supposed to start 7th grade next week. Instead, the 12-year-old Florida boy has become the 2nd child this summer to contract a deadly brain-eating amoeba. Kali Hardig of Arkansas, also 12, contracted the same rare amoeba earlier this summer while swimming at a water park; Zachary was knee boarding in a freshwater channel near his home when he caught Naegleria fowleri. But while Kali's condition has reportedly stabilized, Zachary is currently fighting for his life in a local hospital. Says his mother: "We are still in the storm, and it seems to be getting worse." 

I can't even begin to imagine what Zachary's parents are going through right now. My daughter is starting 7th grade in a couple of weeks, so this story truly hits home in a horrifying way.


Thankfully, the family's community is being tremendously supportive. Wednesday night, hundreds of locals held a prayer vigil where over $3,000 in donations were collected. A Facebook page set up by Zachary's relatives called Pray4Number4 (if Zachary survives this infection, he will be only the 4th known human being to do so) has thousands and thousands of followers. I'm sure that, for Zachary's parents, there's very little comfort to be found in any of this right now -- I'm sure they're completely and totally consumed by fear -- but at the very, very least, I hope they know that they're not alone. 

Are you horrified by this summer's brain-eating amoeba stories?


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