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Family mourns 11-year-old girl SC who contracted brain-eating amoeba

Hannah Collins walks out onto stage before winning Young Miss at Walterboro's annual Miss Rice Festival in April at the Performing Arts Center at Colleton County (SC) High School. Hannah, 11, is fighting for her life after contracting a deadly amoeba while swimming in the Edisto River in Charleston County. Jeffery Musgrave The (Walterboro, SC) Press and Standard
Hannah Collins walks out onto stage before winning Young Miss at Walterboro's annual Miss Rice Festival in April at the Performing Arts Center at Colleton County (SC) High School. Hannah, 11, is fighting for her life after contracting a deadly amoeba while swimming in the Edisto River in Charleston County. Jeffery Musgrave The (Walterboro, SC) Press and Standard

who contracted a brain infection swimming in a Charleston County river and died Friday night, recalling her as humble, appreciative and full of life.

Collins, died at 10:20 p.m. Friday, the family announced over the weekend. She had 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, and we know she will always be close by, watching over us,” the statement said.

Hannah contracted the brain-eating amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, from 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 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 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 occurred in July 2012, DHEC confirmed this week.

A drug twice successful in treating the infection was rushed in from Orlando this week 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 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.”

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control in a news release Tuesday said someone had been exposed to the organism Naegleria fowleri while swimming 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. DHEC did not identify the patient.

To be infected, a person must jump in the water feet-first and have water enter their nose with enough force that the amoeba reaches the brain, epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell said in the release. The amoeba usually dies before the person is infected, Bell said.

A drug twice successful in treating the disease was rushed in from Orlando, Fla., this week to treat the patient.

“We have all the meds from the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) but we need a miracle,” Hannah’s aunt, Caroline Crockett, said in a statement on the GoFundMe page.

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