LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A child in Little Rock died this week from an infection caused by a brain-eating amoeba, bringing back memories for many of a case from 10 years ago when another Arkansas child faced the same diagnosis but survived.
On Thursday, Arkansas health officials reported a death due to a person being infected by Naegleria Fowleri at a splash pad at the Country Club of Little Rock. FOX 16 News has determined the victim in the case was a young child.
Similar to this recent case, Kali Hardig contracted Naegleria Fowleri after swimming in a man-made pond ten years ago.
“A death sentence is what they called it, as soon as they saw those little amoebas in my fluid,” Hardig said.
She then complained of a pounding headache. After trying to sleep it off the headache only worsened.
“My eyes were rolling back in my head, I wasn’t there anymore,” Hardig said.
Her parents rushed her to the hospital where doctors originally though it was a bad case of the flu, but Hardig said after tests the scary truth appeared in the lens of a microscope.
“We went into the ER, I’m pretty sure it was a Friday, and they told my parents by Sunday I would be gone, because that’s how fast it moves, it was pretty scary,” Hardig said.
But Hardig fought every day, spending 22 days in a medically induced coma.
“They said I was like a brand-new baby, I had to relearn everything,” Hardig explained.
FROM THE ARCHIVE: Kali Hardig leaves hospital after 55 days
Hardig is now a mother and lives out of state. After making a near-full recovery, she now only feels the lasting effects of scar tissue in her left eye.
“It causes me to have some blurry vision every now and then, but that’s about the only long-lasting effect I have from it,” Hardig said.
When she was 12, she asked everyone to be careful while swimming and to also wear a nose plug. Today, she shares the same words with the world.
“People need to remember to wear their nose plugs or at least plug your nose when you’re in the water,” Hardig said.
Hardig said she understands all too well the pain the family experiencing the effects of the often-deadly amoeba is going through. She said she plans to help in any way she can.