While Fabrizio was mowing his lawn on the afternoon of Sunday, September 16, 2018, he suddenly experienced a severe headache and went to lie down. After taking medicine for the pain, he ended up sleeping through the night, and when he awoke on Monday morning, the headache had not gone away. He asked his mother for more medicine and went back to sleep. When his mother went to check on him in the early afternoon, Fabrizio could not get out of bed on his own and could not speak coherently. His mother called 911 and EMTs rushed him to the hospital.
At first, Fabrizio's symptoms (brain swelling and fever) appeared consistent with bacterial meningitis and he was quickly sedated and treated with the appropriate medication and aggressive neurological protocol. Unfortunately, Fabrizio was not responding to these measures and his condition was rapidly deteriorating. He had been tested for a multitude of illnesses caused by various bacteria and viruses, but the results were coming back negative or inconclusive. Finally on Thursday, one of the test results came back positive. As family and friends huddled in the ICU waiting room, we were delivered a devastating blow.
Fabrizio's cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tested positive for the amoeba, Naegleria Fowleri, which caused a rare infection that has only been diagnosed 143 times in the United States in the last 55 years. The worst-case scenario was unfolding in front of our eyes as we learned that this infection results in a 98% fatality rate. By the time Fabrizio was diagnosed, it was too late to administer the drug that had previously been provided to three of the only five known survivors in North America. Even so, this drug is not easily accessible.
We were hopeful until the end, but unfortunately, on Friday, September 21, 2018 we learned the heart-breaking news that Fabrizio was pronounced brain dead as a result of this brain-eating amoeba.
Fabrizio was 29 years old.
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