Zachary Reyna, the 12-year-old boy infected with a brain eating amoeba, has donated his organs to individuals “waiting on a miracle.” The boy’s family announced the decision that could save several lives on a Facebook page dedicated to Reyna.
Reyna has a, usually fatal, brain infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). The boy may have been infected by Naegleria fowleri, an amoeba that lives in freshwater sources, such as ponds, lakes or rivers, after knee boarding with his friends near his LaBelle, Fla., on Aug. 3. Infections usually occur during the summer, with warmer temperatures and lower water levels. Health officials report individuals cannot be infected by drinking contaminated water but should take necessary precautions, such as wearing a nose clip or to keep one’s head above water, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On the Facebook page dedicated to young Reyna, “Pray4Number4,” the boy’s family announced the decision to donate his organs. “Tonight at 10:13PM, Zachary Cole Reyna began his journey to save lives. Zac donated all his organs to others that were waiting on a miracle. Through donating his organs, Zac is living on. His heart will be pumping for someone, his lungs will be taking breaths for someone and all his other organs will change the lives of many,” said the family. Reyna was taken off life support on Monday.
Speaking to the Associated Press, Reyna’s uncle, Homer Villarreal, described the boy as full of life with unlimited energy. On Facebook, the family thanked the thousands of people that joined the community or commented on the posts. According to the Facebook post, “Zac is our miracle. His strong 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.”
The family said funeral arrangements had yet to be made but will update the Facebook page with details in the near future.
As AP reports, 28 people have been infected with the brain eating amoeba between 2003 and 2012. It is unclear why some people may be infected while others, swimming in the same water at the same time as the infection, do not contract the disease, reports CDC. Another source of possible infection is from contaminated tap water used for sinus irrigation devices, such as neti pots.