Florida teen called 'miracle' after surviving brain-eating amoeba

16-year-old treated at Orlando hospital while on vacation


ORLANDO, Fla. – A 16-year-old boy who contracted a brain-eating amoeba in South Florida before doctors in Orlando diagnosed him was called a "miracle" as he prepared to leave the hospital.

Sebastian DeLeon, who contracted Naegleria fowleri in Broward County earlier this month, was taken to Florida Hospital Orlando on Aug. 7 after he developed an intense headache while on vacation with his family at a Central Florida theme park.

The Department of Health believes Sebastian contracted the amoeba while swimming on private property.

His mother and doctors who treated him in Orlando spoke to the media on Tuesday.

"I want to thank God and all his power and for everything he's done in saving our kid's life and putting this wonder medical staff (together)," said Sebastian's mother. "We are so grateful for the gift of life."

Gonzalez described her son as a "very energetic, wonderful teen."

Sebastian is now one of four people in the last 50 years known to have survived an infection of Naegleria fowleri, which is found in warm freshwater and has a fatality rate of more than 97 percent.

"I have treated amoeba cases in the past, and they've all been fatal, so this is a story that we need to tell," said Dr. Humberto Liriano, adding that he's optimistic that Sebastian will make a full recovery.

The CEO of an Orlando-based company sent out an amoeba-fighting drug after the Broward County case was confirmed.