Kali Hardig is in a hospital bed fighting a rare and potentially deadly parasite, but the 12-year-old is far from alone in her battle.
The 12-year-old was at a swimming outing when she was stricken with a rare form of parasitic meningitis, one that doctors have described as a “brain-eating amoeba.” Family and friends of Kali have been by her side throughout the ordeal, offering their prayers and support despite the difficult odds she faces.
Kali is in a medically induced coma and is connected to a dialysis machine constantly. Medical experts say her ailment is normally fatal, but that’s not stopping her loved ones from keeping hope.
“Like every hour I just think about her and hopes she gets better,” said Kali’s friend, 12-year-old Tristin Williams.
Family members of Kali Hardig have even made special t-shirts that say “Kali’s Krew” with the number three. The number has special meaning — she would be the third person to survive parasitic meningitis.
She is believed to have contracted the brain-eating amoeba from Willow Springs Water Park in Little Rock, Arkansas. The organism responsible for the infection is found in warm freshwater and soil and causes a brain infection that is usually fatal. It cannot be passed from person to person.
“The organism typically infects people by entering the body through the nose as they are swimming and diving,” noted the Arkansas Department of Health. “Individuals cannot be infected with Naegleria by swimming in properly cleaned, maintained and disinfected swimming pools.”
After the incident, Kali’s mother described her daughter’s ordeal in comments reported by Medical Daily.
“I couldn’t get her fever down. She started vomiting… She’d say her head hurt really bad. She cried, and she would just look at me and her eyes would just kind of roll.”
Doctors placed Kali Hardig into the coma in an attempt to ride out the inflammation that typically occurs with meningitis.