Lily Mae Avant, 10, swam in the Brazos River and Lake Whitney near Waco over Labor Day weekend, KWTX reported.
After being flown to Cook Children’s Health Care System in Fort Worth on Sept. 8, a spinal tap found she had contracted Naegleria fowleri, a single-cell living organism commonly found in warm freshwater, like lakes and rivers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Valley Mills Elementary School, where Lily was a fifth-grader, confirmed her death on Sept. 16 on Facebook, saying the school district “is deeply saddened by the loss of Lily Avant. Lily was an absolute blessing to our elementary school. She was an outstanding student, but more importantly, Lily was an incredible person and friend to all.”
“She has and will continue to touch lives around the nation,” the school wrote.
An administrator on the Facebook page #LilyStrong, a family-made support group, wrote in a post: “Our beautiful little girl is completely healed and in the arms of Jesus.”
According to the Facebook page #LilyStrong, Lily began having a headache on Sept. 8 which was quickly followed by a fever. The doctor prescribed Lily antibiotics, but it did not seem to be working.
Lily was then rushed to the ER a few days later because she was incoherent and unresponsive. Upon examination, she was given treatment for bacteria and viral meningitis and airlifted to Cook Children’s in Fort Worth.
Her spinal tap said Lily contracted a very rare amoeba that is aggressive with a high fatality rate, according to the page.
Cook Children’s Health Care System declined to comment when asked about Lily’s death because the hospital had not received parental consent to do so, said hospital spokeswoman Kim Brown.
Funeral Services Announced
Funeral services have been scheduled for Lily.
Services will held at 1 p.m. on Friday for Lily at the Open Range Cowboy Church located at 582 FM 1713 in Whitney, said her family on Tuesday, Sept. 17. This will be followed by a private graveside service.
“Words can not begin to express how overwhelming this past week has been for our family. We have been flooded by your love and support and feel incredibly humbled by how many lives have been impacted by our sweet and sassy, Lily Mae,” said Lily’s family. “Our beautiful girl is completely healed and in the arms of Jesus.”
The family also expressed their appreciation for everyone being respectful during this difficult time as they grieve their loss.
“Our faith in God has only been made stronger because of each of you. We may never understand why certain things happen here on earth, but we know God never left our sides. He has been right beside us and will continue to be our strength and see us through this,” said Lily’s family.
Multiple donation accounts have been set up in memory of Lily Mae. Donations can be made to the First National Bank of Whitney, or First National Bank of Valley Mills.
You can also donate through Venmo @LilyLaciJohn and Valley Mills ISD is selling #LilyStrong t-shirts, with all proceeds going to Lily Mae’s family.