Father who lost son to amoeba: 'Stay the hell out of the water'
A Beaufort girl who contracted a brain infection swimming in a Charleston County river died Friday night.
Hannah Collins, 11, died at 10:20 p.m. Friday, the family said in a statement on Saturday morning. She spent Friday embraced by her mom, Liz Crockett, and brother while her grandmother read her books and prayed.
Hannah loved life, her family and friends and, although this is not the outcome we wished for, our sweet girl has joined the angels.
Collins family statement
“Hannah loved life, her family and friends and, although this is not the outcome we wished for, our sweet girl has joined the angels, and we know she will always be close by, watching over us,” the statement said.
Hannah contracted the brain-eating amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, while swimming in the Edisto River in Charleston County in July, according to an online fundraising page set up for the family and a S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control news release. DHEC didn’t identify the patient.
She had been treated at Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. The family was told Thursday that Hannah had irreparable brain damage.
Hannah was a student at Riverview Charter School in Shell Point. Friends and parents of classmates have been posting messages of support on social media this week.
She had been crowned queen of her age division at the Colleton County Rice Festival Pageant in April.
“A precious little girl, a precious child,” pageant director Ann Drawdy said Thursday. “She’s a very sweet child and humble and very appreciative.”
DHEC confirmed in a news release Tuesday that someone had been exposed to the organism while swimming near Martin’s Landing on the Edisto River in Charleston County on July 24. The amoeba is common in warm-water lakes, rivers and streams, but infection is rare, the release said.
The organism reaches the brain through the nose, epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell said. Recent cases have involved children and young adults — those who are more likely to be swimming aggressively, she said.
The amoeba causes primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), which attacks brain tissue.
Infection is rare. The most recent infection in South Carolina before Hannah’s case occurred in July 2012, DHEC confirmed this week.
A drug twice successful in treating the infection was rushed in from Orlando to treat Hannah.
In the statement, the family thanked Todd MacLaughlan, CEO of the drug company Profounda. MacLaughlan had rushed the drug known generically as miltefosine to Charleston via a UPS courier service late Tuesday.
But by Thursday, the family said doctors had done all they could.
A funeral Mass will be held at St. Peter’s Catholic Church on Lady’s Island, the family said. Anderson Funeral Home is handling arrangements.
The GoFundMe page started for Hannah’s family had raised almost $30,000 by Saturday afternoon.
A series of photos of Hannah were posted to the Facebook page “Prayers for Hannah Katherine” on Saturday. They show Hannah with her mother, running on the beach, at the pool, having her nails done and crossing the marsh boardwalk at Hunting Island.
“My beautiful angel Hannah,” the note read. “I feel her with me as I try to go through my day. I pray she gives me the strength to conquer the hard days ahead of me.
“My baby girl will always be with me, and I will try to find comfort in the fact I will one day be united with her in her new home, Heaven.”
Full statement from Hannah Collins’ family, provided by family friend Kate Olin
“Hannah officially received her angel wings this evening at 10:20 p.m. Hannah spent the day surrounded by family and friends, snuggled with her Mom and brother, and listened to prayers and books read by her Grandmother.
“Hannah loved life, her family and friends and, although this is not the outcome we wished for, our sweet girl has joined the angels, and we know she will always be close by, watching over us. We wish to express our immense gratitude to everyone for the outpouring of love and support we have experienced these past several days. Most especially, the doctors, nurses and staff at Beaufort Memorial Hospital and the Medical University of South Carolina who worked so hard to help her to overcome the infection. We also want to thank Todd MacLaughlan and the people at Profounda in Florida for everything they did in the middle of the night to get the medicine that Hannah needed up to Charleston.
“We are humbled and overwhelmed with the support, prayers and messages we have received from friends, our community and people we have never even met. We are reminded that we are surrounded by God’s goodness and ask your continued prayers in the days ahead.
“Notes: Anderson Funeral Home is handling arrangements. Funeral Mass to be held at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church.”