Brain-Eating Amoeba Survivor Kali Hardig Returns to Infested Lake
Kali Hardig, the 12-year-old Arkansas girl whose brain was infected by a brain-eating amoeba that made her critically ill, has miraculously recovered. After being released from the hospital last month, the plucky tween recently returned to the lake where she first contracted the deadly parasite Naegleria fowleri.
Back in July, Kali was diagnosed with parasitic meningitis called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). Despite overwhelming odds and the fact that she still needs speech and physical therapy, she has almost completely recovered. CBS News reports that Kali returned to the Willow Springs Water Park in Little Rock, Arkansas, in order to help the park owners announce a benefit fishing tournament to be held later this month in her honor.
Kali’s mom, Traci Hardig, insists that their family has “no hard feelings” against the owners of the water park. She said, "They (the water park owners) are just a family, just like us. This is their livelihood. It's OK to come out here. It's OK to support them."
Although cases of the parasite are rare — there have only been 128 cases since 1962 — state health officials said another case of parasitic meningitis was possibly connected to the Willow Springs water park in 2010. Park owners David and Lou Ann Ratliff closed the sandy-bottomed body of water to swimming after Kali was diagnosed, saying that they only would reopen it if they could afford to put a cement bottom in the lake.
Upon returning to the 85-year-old park, which still remains closed to swimming, Kali said she felt fine, saying, "I like having fun here. I have a lot of fun here with my friends." Meanwhile Traci said she was incredibly proud of her daughter for returning. According to the mom, who thought her daughter was literally going to die a few short months ago, “I had a lot of faith in this. I feel like I got a miracle."