TITUSVILLE, Fla. (CBS Tampa) — The Brevard County teen who suffered a rare brain infection caused by an amoeba died over the weekend.

The young girl, identified as 16-year-old Courtney Nash, was hospitalized on August 10 after complaining of headaches, vomiting, and coming down with a high fever her uncle, Tom Uzell, told reporters during a family news conference. A week earlier she had been swimming in the St. John’s River when it’s believed an amoeba entered her brain from the water. The rare infection has only seen one survivor since the 1970s, officials told CBS Tampa on Friday. Nash passed away on Saturday.

Nash’s uncle said an infectious disease doctor was in the lab when her spinal tap results came back and the doctor immediately recognized the amoeba.

“They worked tirelessly to try and kill the amoeba. They exhausted everything that’s been known as to how to treat this ailment. On Saturday morning she was declared no brain function whatsoever and at the point the decision was made, by her actually, prior, to have organ donation done,” said Uzell, who has been a paramedic for 27 years.

Courtney’s mother, PJ Nash-Ryder, said at least seven of her daughter’s organs had been donated, including both lungs, her liver, her pancreas, and her kidneys.

“I am so very proud of her. She’s one of a kind, she’s my angel, and I know that. I didn’t get my miracle, but she has performed other miracles, and I know she’s up in heaven with God. She must have been very special for (God) to take her, and that’s what’s comforting me,” Nash-Ryder said.

Her mother said Courtney, a junior in high school, helped the disabled through horse therapy and wanted to be an OB/GYN when she grew up.

Barry Inman, an epidemiologist with the Brevard County Health Department, told CBS Tampa that doctors see typically fewer than five cases a year of the infection, known as amoebic meningoencephalitis, throughout the entire country. Doctors treat it with anti-fungal medications and antibiotics.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Florida’s last confirmed case came in 2009.

“We have like one or two maybe a year. Sometimes we go a few years without having any cases in the United States, so it’s rare when it occurs, but when it occurs it’s not good,” Inman said.

Amoebic meningoencephalitis occurs often during very hot weather and is contracted in stagnant freshwater. “The water, because of jumping or swimming or whatever may occur, has to go up the nose into the nasal passages, into the sinuses, and into the brain,” Inman said. “In the brain you’ve got a lot of cerebral spinal fluid, you’ve got glucose, you’ve got protein, it’s just the perfect environment to proliferate and grow.”

Officials urge swimmers to avoid swimming in bodies of freshwater. Those who do should wear nose plugs or hold their nose when they jump or dive in.

Courtney will be laid to rest on Saturday. Anyone who would like to make a donation to help with funeral costs can do so at any local Wells Fargo bank location under Courtney’s name.

Comments (38)
  1. Laphroiag says:

    Sad really ? For who?

  2. Gil says:

    THAT is your takeaway from this story? Most decent people would say the poor girl’s death us the sad part. Good night, atheist troll.

  3. Atlas Shrugged says:

    ANON: what is sad about believing in something? The sad thing is if you don’t believe you don’t go to HEAVEN, if you do believe you will go if there really is a HEAVEN, if not what did you lose, nothing.

    If you are a non believer, then be one, if others find comfort in believing in something, let them have their comfort.

    Your case is extra sad, you obviously don’t believe in anything, so you have nothing to look forward to when you die, no parents, friends, children to greet you when you pass to the next phase. Nothing to hope for, nothing to comfort you, you must be very sad and lonely.

    TOO BAD!

    1. Ryan says:

      You are employing what is formally called “Pascal’s Wager”, that is; one should wager on God’s existence because if they believe and are wrong they lose nothing but if they are right they gain everything. Conversely, if they don’t believe and they are wrong they lose everything but if they are right they gain nothing. Generally sounds like pretty good reasoning right?

      Wrong. Pascal’s Wager made the assumption that the only options are Christianity or atheism. It neglects every other faith and belief system in existence which leaves one major problem– Which God should you worship? It might seem that at least believing in one of the possible gods increases your odds, but when you consider that in some religions ignorance is forgiven whereas believing in a different faith and actively rejecting that religion is severely punished, maintaining no belief is actually an even bet– belief in no God is just as probabilistically valid as belief in any of the Gods in the spectrum.

      Don’t get me wrong, I am a Christian, but logical black holes like this one really serve no purpose in convincing people of the truth, nor are they effective in attempting any form of Christian apology. (Apology being defense of the faith, not saying you’re sorry)

      1. vi says:

        Oh my gosh, really get over it.. Atleast believers actually have faith ..you are sad

    2. Barb says:

      “The sad thing is if you don’t believe you don’t go to HEAVEN”
      Why should ‘believing’ have anything to do with it? Sounds like your beliefs are fear based. Which ‘heaven’ are you referring to? There are umpteen billions of people who have lived on planet earth and did not necessarily all believe in the same heaven or Supreme Being or pathway to ‘Him’ – maybe they didn’t believe in anything outside of what they could see, touch and feel – are they all wrong and ‘doomed’? Or perhaps they are in a different Heaven? What you are prescribing to sounds like a childish ‘God’ playing some cosmic shell game.

      1. Emerson says:

        onestamente,i resident evil vcheci li ho provati tutti sul gamecube, e posso dire ke l unica cosa che odiavo di questi giochi erano quei ***** di enigmi, per me soppravivere agli zombi vuol dire essere in citta o in una villa infestata da zombi e sparare per soppravivere ,non trovare una chiave con uno stemma e capire quale porta apre, comunque sono daccordo sul fatto che invece di fare uno sparatutto sui binari potevano essere dei remake dal n 0 al CODE VERONICA ,se poi riescono a darci un RESIDENT EVIL 5 per wii meglio ancora anke a costo di cambiare qualcosa sia a livello grafica e giocabilita

    3. omeca says:

      Don’t confuse ‘faith’ with knowledge. You won’t get away with it. – Hitchens.

      She is not with the universe. He body is now feeding the flora and fauna she dine upon while she was alive. Her body will turn to dust. And when the sun Novas she will return to the universe, as will we all. I think that is more amazing, more beautiful than heaven.

      We are all connected to each other biologically. To the Earth Chemically. To the universe atomically.

  4. AtlasObjectivist says:

    Your comment is poorly timed and placed. You are a disgrace to the atheist community. Do us all a favor and take self action to eliminate your carbon footprint.

  5. CRS says:

    Anon you are a very sad example of humanity. Die and fade away into nothing…

    1. omeca says:

      to wish someone death….is that a sign of a good example of humanity?

  6. B Fergie says:

    Well folks. We can all see why he/she uses the title anon. At least anon must realize in its heart?? that they are a very sorry speciman of humanity. Watch your kids folks.

  7. Love they brother says:

    @Anon – It is really pretty simple. God created the universe and gave man the choice to follow Him or themselves. Man chose to live in sin and darkness. Over the millenia man has chosen self worship in many different forms. By sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross to atone for the sins of all man-kind God has given us a chance for redemption. All that we need to do is believe what Jesus said. We live in a fallen world where terrible things happen it doesn’t mean God doesn’t exist or that he doesn’t care. Quite the contrary he gave his only begotten Son to die for our sins. There is divine providence in the fall of a sparrow how much more then does God care for you? God has extended his hand in love and is waiting for you to take it and He will change your life.

    1. No says:

      I also think you mean ‘love “thy” brother, but if you’re uneducated enough to believe all that, odds are your spelling ability will be lacking as well.

      1. james says:

        Well with “no” as your name it’s even more apparent how little thought you could conjur up. Now, get back to school before your parents find out you’ve ben playing on the computer…

  8. Erik in San Diego says:

    Courtney sounds like a wonderful young lady with a heart of gold. My heart goes out to her and her family. She will be missed by her family and friends but a small comfort is knowing how they shaped her life into becoming a generous caring individual. May she rest in peace and may her family find the strength to live on and cherish her memory. You sound like a wonderful caring family and mag GOd bless you.

  9. Katy says:

    This was very sad, and I was praying as were likely thousands of people, that she would recover. Reading the mother’s comment brought tears to my eyes, but 7 people have received a miracle because of this young lady’s sacrifice.

  10. Cmac66 says:

    So sad. Sounds like a wonderful young woman. Nice to hear her organs will prolong the lives of the others who receive them.

    Our fate is picked at random, make the most of your relationships while still alive.

  11. Jessica says:

    God bless this girl and her family- she sure sounds like she will have no trouble finding her way through those pearly gates.

    1. Allen Ross says:

      I like your comment and heartily agree.

  12. The Great OZ says:

    I am glad to see she was able to give her heart to someone who really needed it. Too bad you are going to have to wait some more.

    1. Omeca says:

      not cleaver. Boring.

  13. trysomethingnew says:

    I tried to comment on the first run of this story but it wouldn’t let me leave a comment. Doctors never “treated” this infection in the past because clearly nothing worked, that’s like throwing paint on a wall to keep it from falling down – it’s useless and stupid. Why not try something outside of the box if you have an overwhelming failure rate instead of stand around and hope? The amoeba is extremely sensitive to salt substances – why not explore this link further? For example, is there a way to safely increase the salt content of the spinal fluid? What about other environmental weaknesses of the Amoeba? I feel like medical establishment laziness and disinterest killed this girl because not enough people get this disease to make it profitable to the pharmaceuticals. And that’s the sad f’ing truth.

    1. TNT says:

      My greatest condolences to her family. I agree with your statements regarding introducing saline solutions into the infected areas or increasing the salinity of the bloodstream to counteract this infection. Drastically increasing the body’s salt content would have various negative effects on many organs, however, in a life or death situation, for a brief period of time, it would seem to make sense to take such action – especially when non-action results in a 97%+ (despite what others may have mentioned here, there has been more than one survivor – but not many more…) mortality rate. Basically, if someone’s facing an almost 98% chance of death, even with the best medical attention, it would seem worthwhile to temporarily damage other organs, to give the entire being a better overall chance of survival. Much easier to repair partially damaged organs ( from extra salt) than facing absolutely terrible odds otherwise.

  14. guest101 says:

    From a Nash to a Nash…

    My condolences.

    I hope her last gift is a meaningful one.

    God bless you guys.

    1. bnash says:

      Another Nash here.

      Such a tragedy to lose a young life to something so seemingly not dangerous (an afternoon of swimming). Let us all appreciate the time we are given, since we never know when it will be taken from us.

      Extremely touched that she was able to help others after she died (as an organ donor), because of her, others will have the possibility of living.

      God bless her and her family.

  15. a non says:

    how are any of your beliefs relevant to this situation? no one cares about whether or not you believe in god, and arguing about it doesn’t help anything. it only makes the similarities between believers and nonbelievers all the more obvious, that both parties are ridiculously childish. I think you all should just drop whatever issue it is you seem to be having with each other and follow the golden rule, as it is fairly easy to follow no matter what your beliefs may be. it’s disgusting that there have to be discussions about such a petty thing on an update about a teenagers death. it’s pretty obvious that the atheists on here are mainly concerned with trolling, and the christians are all too eager to fall for it. how embarrassing.

  16. Notadoctor says:

    Maybe I’m just confused, but why is it a safe assumption that the donated organs were not also infected or contaminated?

  17. Joseph says:

    My heart goes out to the parents. It would kill me to lose a child.

  18. Cherie says:

    How heartbreaking for her family, and such a terrible way to go. I’m glad they have a strong faith in God to help them get through their loss.

  19. Renee Lafayette Jr. says:

    God only knows what chain of events precipitated this teen’s malady. Instead of sympatizing, we need some investigating! These “rare incidents” are caused. They don’t just happen. Hospitals are filthy, health care workers indifferent, and pharmaceutical companies push their deadly products. Open your eyes people. This wasn’t caused by God. It was negligence, indifference and disdain

  20. Frank says:

    RIP young lady. May God give your family peace and strength to get through these difficult times.

  21. Blaming doctors is pointless says:

    Increased salinity of her tissues would be excrutiatingly painful and would have necessitated inducing a coma. I don’t know how it would have effected her ability to donate her organs. Bless her for choosing to give her organs to people in dire need of them. She may have helped saved more than one person’s life. As for the organism infecting her other organs, it only multiplies in nervous tissue. I’m surprised the amphotericin she probably received as treatment did not exclude her from being a kidney donor. And to those decrying the doctors for not trying more alternative treatments: feel free to volunteer for painful experimental medical treatments on your own time – don’t volunteer someone else.

  22. Monia says:

    Even as your were preparing for death – you gave others the gift of life and hope. What a blessing you were to your parents. May you have a peaceful journey as you make your way home.

  23. Dripable Service says:

    That was a really amazing piece of writing..

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