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    Experimental drug helping girl fight brain-eating amoeba

    7:13 AM, Jul 31, 2013   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (CNN) -- An experimental drug could be the key to saving a 12-year old-girl. Kali Harding is battling for her life after coming into contact with a brain-eating parasite during a trip to Willow Springs Water Park in Little Rock.

    When Kali Hardig arrived at Arkansas Children's Hospital, she was so exhausted she couldn't even answer the doctor's questions. Her mom Traci Hardig says, "He asked me several times did I think Kali was being like what you call a hypochondriac."

    But Traci assured him her daughter was no drama queen. The doctor listened and ran tests that showed Kali had a rare and almost always deadly brain-eating amoeba swimming around in her spinal fluid. Kali's parents were told she might have only days to live. Hardig says, "I hung on by my husband, and asking him 'what are we going to do?'. And he would tell me that 'we're gonna pray for Kali and we're gonna help her fight. We're gonna tell her to fight,' and that she would be okay."

    To preserve brain tissue, Kali's doctors induced a coma and cooled her body to 93 degrees. Doctors also turned to the Centers for Disease Control for an experimental anti-amoeba drug, unsure if it would work, but apparently it has. Now there's now no trace of the amoebas in Kali's spinal fluid. Dr. Sanjiv Pasala says, "Day by day she's showing slow improvement and we're all very optimistic."

    But Kali remains in intensive care in critical condition. Pasala says, "Killing the amoebas is one thing, but managing brain swelling and the aftermath of the infection and the irritation to the brain is really the critical part in having a patient survive."

    If Kali does pull through, she'll beat the odds: only one person in the U.S. has survived this disease in the past 50 years.

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