In a sad twist of fate, 12-year-old Zachary Reyna has died after coming into contact with a brain-eating parasite.
“The battle is over for Zac but he won the war,” the family wrote on a Facebook post, referring to the decision to donate the boy’s organs. “Even though Zac has passed, he will still be saving many lives.”
After kneeboarding with some friends in a ditch on August 3, Zach started experiencing symptoms that prompted the family to rush him to the hospital. Shortly after being admitted, the boy underwent brain surgery and doctors diagnosed him with primary amoebic meningoencephalitis. The boy later suffered extensive brain damage and passed away last Saturday.
“Zac is our miracle,” the Facebook post also added. “His spirit will always be among us. He changed all of our lives, brought us closer to God, strengthened our family and his story has touched people around the world.”
There have been a reported 28 infections in the US that were attributed to the parasite from 2003 to 2012, mostly from exposure to contaminated hot springs or warm freshwater and mostly in the South.
“[Zac’s] infection is one of the most severe infections that we know of,” Dr. Dirk Haselow of the Arkansas Department of Health tells CNN. “Ninety-nine percent of people who get it die.”