08/25/2013 09:14 am ET Updated Aug 26, 2013

Zachary Reyna, Florida Boy Fighting Brain-Eating Amoeba, To Be Taken Off Life Support (VIDEO)

The South Florida boy who has been battling a very rare infection at Miami Children's Hospital is brain dead and will be taken off life support Sunday night, according to his family.

Zachary Reyna, 12, was knee-boarding in ditch water in Glades County when he contracted Naegleria fowleri, brain-eating amoeba, through his nose.

Although antibiotics had successfully fought off the infection, Reyna suffered extensive brain damage.

The family indicated that Reyna has already "passed" after showing negative brain activity for days, but he will be kept on a ventilator until Sunday night so that his organs can be donated.

Saturday on Pray4Number4, the Facebook tribute for Reyna referencing the small number of primary amebic meningoencephalitis survivors, his father wrote:

Celebrities like Taylor Swift, reportedly Reyna's favorite singer, sent him gifts. The New York Yankees even sent him flowers and a balloon reading, "Get Well Soon."

The infection that claimed the young boy's life is very rare.

Center For Disease Control officials say there have been only 128 people infected with PAM since 1962. Only three have survived, including another Florida 12 year old who recently contacted the amoeba from a freshwater spring.

The CDC recommends diminishing risk by limiting water contact with nose (hold nose shut, use nose clips, or keep head above water), avoid water-related activities in warm freshwater during periods of high water temperatures and low water levels, and avoid stirring up bottom sediment in shallow, warm freshwater areas.

There have also been cases from use of Neti pots, in which contaminated water is used to irrigate the nose.

Clarification: A headline that appeared on another part of our website on Sunday morning indicated that Reyna was deceased, based on a family statement that he had "passed." As of Sunday afternoon, the Associated Press is reporting that the family says he has no brain activity but remains on a ventilator.



21 Rare Diseases