Family and friends said their final goodbyes to 12-year-old Zachary Reyna Sunday, as he remained on a ventilator at Miami Children's Hospital following his fight with a rare brain-eating infection.
"It's hard for me to believe that Zachary can be laying in bed when this kid would never run out of energy," uncle Homer Villarreal said. "It's hard for all of us to believe this is happening to him."
Reyna had spent weeks fighting the infection known as PAM, or primary amebic meningoencephalitis, before his family announced Saturday that he had passed.
Boy Fighting Brain-Eating Amoeba Dies at Miami Hospital
"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," father Jesse Reyna wrote on a Facebook page called Pray4Number4. "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."
The family announced that Zachary would be kept on his ventilator at Miami Children's Hospital throughout Sunday for friends or family who wanted to stop by. They also said Zachary's organs would be donated.
"Even though Zac has passed, he will still be saving many lives," the Facebook post read.
Boy Being Affected by Brain-Eating Amoeba
Another post Sunday said the family was still praying for Zachary.
"We respect the doctors 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," it said.
"Imagining them losing their child is horrible," family friend Mariel Cardenas said Sunday. Cardenas is from a small town near LaBelle, where the Reyna family is from, and her nephew also happened to be in the hospital room next door to Zachary's.
"God bless whoever gets the organs and to the family. A lot of prayers to the family of course," Cardenas said.
His family said Zachary had been knee boarding in a water-filled ditch near his home before he became very ill earlier this month. He was transferred to Miami Children's Hospital after being transferred there from Glades County.
The brain-eating amoeba that causes the infection is commonly found in warm fresh water such as lakes, rivers, canals and ponds. The peak season runs from July through September.
The amoeba can enter through the nose and into the brain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 2003 to 2012 there have been 31 reported cases of PAM. Of those, 28 have been linked to recreational water, three from nose irrigation with contaminated water. The infections are more likely in Southern states but are extremely rare.
On Wednesday, family members said antibiotics had defeated the infection but on Saturday, doctors found no brain activity.
"The doctors did all they could do. It's up to the good man upstairs," Villareal said, adding that the family was praying. "I just wish a miracle would happen."