Health

Girl, 10, fighting brain-eating amoeba at Fort Worth hospital

FORT WORTH, Texas — Her family says Lily Mae Avant has always been tough. 

“She’s been a fighter from birth,” said her aunt Loni Yadon. “She came into this world fighting

Her tenacity is needed now more than ever. 

The 10-year-old, who lives near Waco, is in a medically-induced coma at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth after contracting a brain-eating amoeba.

“She is still here with us and we are still fighting,” Yadon said.

Yadon, along with cousin Wendy Scott, said Lily went swimming in the Brazos River Labor Day weekend.

“The water is in Lily’s back yard,” Scott said. “She has swum in there day in, day out. The day she was in there, we had 40 people in there with her.”

About a week later, she had a fever and headache. 

Her family says doctors first thought it was a virus, but soon she became incoherent. 

She was flown Tuesday to Cook Children’s, where she was given an amoeba-fighting pill. It was a pill that wouldn’t have been available had it not been for a family from Midlothian. 

“Our mission is coming to fruition, and we’re here for Lily,” said Julie Lewis.

Julie and her husband, Jeremy, lost their son, Kyle, to a brain-eating amoeba in 2010. 

RELATED: Local parents fight for amoeba-battling drug that could save lives

After his death, the Lewis family pushed for the drug Miltefosine to be made available in hospitals. The drug gives victims a chance of surviving if it’s administered quickly. 

That drug wasn’t available for Kyle, but in 2016, his parents’ dream became a reality: giving other patients the chance he didn’t.

‘Within a year, it was in 20-something hospitals,” Jeremy said. “[Cook Children’s] was the first hospital in the nation to have it. We wanted it here because Kyle was here.”

Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services, says amoebas are actually quite common, often found in warm freshwater, but the infections are not. There are typically zero to one case a year. Lily’s case is the first in the state this year.

Lily Mae Avant

Family

If you do swim in freshwater, the state recommends holding your nose, using nose clips and avoiding putting your head underwater.

“It’s the thing you read about that doesn’t happen to you, until it happens to you,” Yadon said.

The CDC says only four people in the United States have survived these infections, but Lily’s family believes she’ll be the fifth. 

She has already defied the odds, surviving for six days with this infection. They believe prayer is helping her through, and they praise the doctors at Cook Children’s.

Family and friends remain by Lily’s side. She’s a fierce fighter, they say, who will pull through.

Anyone who would like to donate toward to cost of Lily’s treatment can Venmo donations to the account: @LilyLaciJohn

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