BuzzFeed has written in depth about Kali Hardig, then 12, whose swim in a water park south of Little Rock a year ago put her in contact with a brain-eating amoeba nearly always fatal. Treatment at Arkansas Children’s Hospital saved her life.
The story details her illness and treatment, the science on the parasite, its appearance in a Louisiana water supply and the experience of others. It still strikes everyone as a miracle.
Dr. Matt Linam, the infectious disease doctor at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, finds it difficult to ascribe a single factor to Kali’s survival: Her diagnosis had been unconventional and much faster than in other cases. (“If they hadn’t identified it until the next day,” he says, “we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation.”) The hospital used a new dialysis machine to treat the side effects of the antibiotics. Some suspect the amoeba was not as virulent or perhaps Kali had been exposed to the organism previously and somehow built up an immunity. That Kali survived is a miracle to him. He was preparing a case report and hoped there had been something he’d done differently. With only one case, it is difficult to know for sure.
The water park is closed. Kali seems to have fully recovered. She lives the happy life of a busy 13-year-old — soccer and dances and school. She still loves to swim.