Boy fighting rare infection taken off life support
SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, Fla. (WSVN) -- After weeks of prayers and medical treatment, a 12-year-old boy has lost his battle with a rare infection attacking his brain.
Zachary Reyna, a talented little league baseball player, was taken off life support at 9 p.m. Sunday, his family announced.
His older brother, Brandon Villareal, compared his fight against a brain-destroying parasite to a tough baseball game. "Ninth inning, two outs; you know, runner on third, he's up to bat, It's his turn to bat," he said. "Bring those runs home so we can go home."
"Pray4Number4," the Facebook page which attracted over 11,000 "likes" and thousands of messages of support for the little leaguer, issued an update Saturday which read in part, "At 1:54 today there was a crack of a bat heard. Zac took it deep. My boy hit his home run. One that I'll never forget. I'm so proud of him ... 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."
The seventh grader was knee-boarding in a ditch with friends Aug., 3 near his home in Southwest Florida when an amoeba traveled up his nose and into his brain. The rare infection, called primary amebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM, has a one percent survival rate.
Villareal said he wished he could take the active boy's place in his hospital bed. "I wish I could just touch him ,and it would transfer over or something," he said. "It doesn't work like that."
There have been 128 known cases of PAM in the last 50 years. Arkansas resident Kayli Hardig, who was infected in July, is only the third person to have ever survived the disease. "It was so great and a wonderful feeling ... looking at you and squeezing your hand," said Traci Hardig, the girl's mother.
The rare infection comes from common places like freshwater lakes, rivers and ponds.
Reyna's family and supporters hoped he would be the fourth miraculous recovery, which is why they named their Facebook page Pray4Number4. A posting on the page showed antibiotics killed the amoeba on Wednesday, but the extensive damage to the boy's brain proved too much for the boy's body to sustain.
Reyna's parents announced they will donate their son's organs. A message posted Saturday evening on Pray4Number4 read, "Zac's organs are very strong, and his parents have decided to donate his organs to others in need. Even though Zac has passed, he will still be saving many lives."
Reyna was kept on a ventilator at Miami Children's Hospital until 9 p.m. Sunday for any family and friends that would like to see him.
If you would like to donate to the family's mounting medical costs, you can address checks to:
Zachary Reyna Fund
PO Box 697
LaBelle, FL 33975
Please make sure Zachary's name is in the subject line.
(Copyright 2013 by Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)