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Recently, a teen contracted primary amebic meningoencephalitis caused by a brain-eating amoeba. While this diagnosis is often fatal, fortunately, this was one of the cases where the victim survived and is doing remarkably well. The article on CNN states several factors were significant in his recovery:  doctors at the hospital had recently attended a seminar on the topic, the entire hospital worked together to quickly obtain the medication the boy needed, and a team of pediatric infectious disease doctors worked with US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in order to help the boy.

I think it is wonderful that the boy has done so well. I am very happy for him and his family. I am also happy for all the hospital staff, as I am certain this case affected them greatly; it is easy to see how emotional this was for the lead doctor to anyone watching the video of him speaking about the case.

According to the article, when the victim’s mother spoke about her son’s recovery, the first being she thanked was her god. She is quoted as saying, “First to God and all his power for everything he has done in saving our kid’s life. We are so thankful for this gift of life… God has given us a miracle through this hospital staff.”

While I understand that this woman is very grateful that her son is alive, her statement bothers me. First, I believe her statement was a slight to the real people who worked hard to save her son. Even when she does thank the staff, she does not just thank them for their efforts and success; her comments stating that god worked a miracle through the staff overshadows the the staff’s efforts.

It may not surprise you to know that I think her gratitude is misplaced. As you likely suspect, I think her gratitude should be placed not in a god but in the lead doctor, the staff who assisted him, the team of experts that worked with him, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the pharmaceutical company that developed the life saving medication, the researchers that have studied this amoeba, the personnel who offered the seminar the doctor’s attended, and everyone else involved. And, I think those people should get the full credit of their accomplishments. Their accomplishment shouldn’t be blotted out as a miracle.

Second, I believe her statement is an insult to all of those people who have not survived an infection with this amoeba. As stated in the article, between 1962 and 2015, there were 138 known cases of primary amebic meningoencephalitis. While there have been a few survivors, the majority of those infected live only 12-13 days. That’s a lot of people she is implying her god could have saved, but choose not to. Presumably, she believes their lives weren’t worth saving, her god didn’t care about them enough, the victims or their family didn’t pray hard enough, or their death’s was part of some plan that is more important than their lives. Her son, however, she believes was worth divine intervention unlike those who died.

Of course, the boy’s mother has a right to her beliefs and her statement. I am not implying she does not have that right. However, I view her comments as an insult to those for whom the infection was fatal and to the real people who worked hard to help her son.

Again, I am very glad that this teen has survived.

Rare recovery: Florida teen survives brain-eating amoeba, bTue August 23, 2016


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