Teen who survived rare brain-eating amoeba infection reunited with doctor who saved his life

ORLANDO, Fla. — A South Florida boy who survived a rare brain-eating amoeba infection -- which kills most people who contract it -- was reunited Friday with the doctor who saved his life.

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Sebastian Deleon was infected while swimming in a freshwater pond in August 2016.

"The day after, (a) couple days after I came up to Orlando, I got a headache," Deleon said. "(The) first day, mom gave me Advil."

But the 16-year-old became progressively worse and went to Florida Hospital with an acute sensitivity to light and a headache so severe that he couldn't stand to have anyone touch him.

Hospital staffers had been trained to look for the amoeba, which is often contracted through the nose when someone swims in a freshwater lake or river. The infection has a fatality rate of 97 percent, and another boy died from it at the same hospital two years ago.

Dr. Humberto Liriano gave Deleon a cocktail of drugs that put him into a coma and then went to work trying to kill the amoeba before it killed the teen.

"I even cooled him down, his body temperature, really, really low, because my thought was the amoeba survives in a warm body of water, (so) if I cooled him down enough, the amoeba might not produce or multiply," Liriano said.

On Friday, during Florida Hospital's third annual conference to educate health care providers about the brain-eating amoeba, Deleon and Liriano were reunited.

What Liriano did, Deleon said, was nothing short of miraculous.

"No words," he said. "Pretty much, he's an everyday miracle."

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