MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The family of a young boy attacked by a dangerous brain-eating amoeba has decided to take him off a ventilator.

Twelve-year-old Zachary Reyna’s parents made the tough decision, Saturday, and made plans to donate his organs.

The family agreed to leave Zac on a ventilator for family and friends to visit him one last time, but said their son has “passed”.

Despite knowing their son is gone, the family is praying for a miracle, posting another message on the Pray4Number4 – Zachary Reyna Facebook page.

It read:

“We respect the doctor’s protocol, but we continue with our faith and believe God will step in on his time irregardless of what has been said. We ask that you continue to pray and believe along with us.”

Sunday afternoon, a fellow baseball player from Zac’s hometown of LaBelle came to Miami Children’s Hospital, still in shock.

“It’s close to my heart because same sport – right on the next field – can’t imagine this is going to happen,” said Jessie Ramos.

The news that Zac would not survive came Saturday afternoon via a Facebook post.

It read:

“At 1:54 today there was a crack of a bat heard. Zac took it deep. My boy hit his homerun. One that I’ll never forget. I’m so proud of him. He left it all on the field and I can’t ask for more. He did so well that he’ll be the starting 2nd baseman for The Lords team. I sit back and ask myself, what would make me prouder; my son playing pro ball, being a successful business man or being known for changing and saving thousands of lives for The Lord. It’s a no brainer. I love The Lord for giving me such a beautiful son who He chose to change myself, my family and the world for better. Thank you Jesus. It hurts, but you have given my family love and peace. We couldn’t be so strong today without you. I hope that Zac continues to touch people and his time here is remembered forever. 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.”

Reyna was infected with Naegleria fowleri, a microscopic single-celled living amoeba that is commonly found in freshwater lakes, ponds and rivers. It can cause a rare brain infection called ‘primary amebic meningoencephalitis’ (PAM) that destroys brain tissue and is usually fatal.

Victims typically are exposed to the bug while swimming or doing water sports in warm ponds, lakes, rivers and canals during the hot summer months, mostly in the South.

Family members said Zac was infected while knee boarding with friends in a ditch near his family’s LaBelle home on August 3rd.

Experts said the amoeba gets up the nose and travels to the brain where it causes PAM, which destroys brain tissue. It’s a medical mystery why some people who swim in amoeba-containing water get the fatal nervous system condition while many others don’t.

“I don’t know what they are going through, it must be horrible,” said supporter Mariel Cardenas.

The community has been holding prayer vigils and fundraising events since Zac became sick.

“Being close to the family and being a tight knight community LaBelle is, anything that happens to one family, happens to everybody, we’ve been praying and trying to support the parents,” Maria Sandoval told CBS4’s Silva Harapetian.

Just last week, Zac’s family had some hope that antibiotics had killed the deadly amoeba attacking the brain.

Doctors said it was too late, Zac’s brain was already destroyed.

Family members have asked for privacy.


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