BOSQUE COUNTY, TX — A Central Texas girl who was fighting to live after contracting a rare amoeba has died.
The family has confirmed that Lily Mae Avant passed away.
"Yes it is true. At this time, our baby is completely healed and in the arms of Jesus. We want everyone to know we appreciate their prayers and love and support," said Loni Yadon, Lily's aunt. "Our Lily Mae changed lives and brought unity to a divided nation. It's just like her! She loved everyone, and people felt it even through a TV or Facebook. She taught us so much more than we ever taught her. Thank you guys for being so respectful to the family during this time and please have the country continue to pray for our family. Especially mom and dad."
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.
Our beautiful girl is completely healed and in the arms of Jesus. Lily changed lives. Lily saved lives (in the physical and spiritual sense). She brought unity to a divided nation. Which, is just like her! She loved everyone she came in contact with, and we see you all felt that, via news reports or social media. She taught us so much more in her ten years than we ever taught her.
We started this platform because we wanted to bring awareness to Amoeba in an effort to prevent any other family from having to go through this. Please wear nose plugs, if you insist on swimming in warm freshwater. If your child starts showing symptoms and has recently been swimming in freshwater, tell your doctor! The quicker they get treatment, the better. For more information, please contact the Kyle Cares Amoeba Awareness Foundation. Jeremy and Julie Lewis have been our rock throughout all of this.
The #Lilystrong page has become family. We know you all are grieving with us and want to support in any way you can. An account has been set up at First National Bank in Valley Mills, First National Bank in Whitney, and we have the option of Venmo: @LilyLaciJohn, for all donations to John and Laci.
Thank you, all, for being respectful of the family during this time as we grieve our loss. Please continue to stay united as a country and pray for Laci, John, and our family.
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.
We are, and always will be #Lilystrong!
Valley Mills ISD said it was deeply saddened by the loss of Lily. They said she was a blessing to their elementary school.
"Lily was an incredible person and friend to all. She was loving, kind, respectful and had a beautiful heart. This campus and community are beyond blessed for the time we shared with our Lily. Now through Lily's strength and resiliency, the world has had an opportunity to see how beautiful and special she was. She has and will continue to touch lives around the nation.
According to the Facebook page Lily Strong, Lily Mae 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 and that is aggressive with a high fatality rate, according to the page.
The Texas Dept. of State Health Services confirmed that a Bosque County resident has contracted PAM, primary amebic meningoencephalitis.
The amoeba can infect the brain when someone gets untreated water in their nose, usually during swimming or other water recreation. The amoeba is very common in natural, unchlorinated bodied across the U.S., but it is extremely rare.
To reduce the risk of swimming in natural bodies of water, here are some tips:
• Avoid water-related activities in bodies of warm freshwater during periods of high water temperature and low water levels.
• Hold the nose shut or use nose clips when taking part in water-related activities in bodies of warm freshwater such as lakes, rivers, or hot springs.
• Avoid putting your head under the water in hot springs and other untreated thermal waters.
• Avoid digging in or stirring up the sediment while taking part in water-related activities in shallow, warm, freshwater areas.
• Use only sterile, distilled, or lukewarm previously boiled water for nasal irrigation or sinus flushes (e.g., Neti Pot usage, ritual nasal ablution, etc.).
Friday Valley Mills ISD students and staff will be passing around a bucket at the football game for those who wish to donate to Lily and her family.
Valley Mills is taking on Dawson Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Valley Mills High, located on Eagle Way in Valley Mills.