Zachary Reyna, a 12-year-old from LaBelle, Fla., who battled a rare, brain-eating amoeba, was on a ventilator late Saturday awaiting the chance to donate his organs, according to a post on a Facebook page set up by the boy's family.
"Even though Zac has passed, he will still be saving many lives," the post states.
A 1:54 p.m. Saturday, the Pray4Number4 Facebook page announced the former little league baseball player is playing baseball for the "Lord's team" after losing his 20-day battle with the infection.
"He did so well that he'll be the starting 2nd baseman for The Lord's team," Saturday's Facebook post states. "I sit back and ask myself, what would make me prouder; my son playing pro ball, being a successful business man or being known for changing and saving thousands of lives for The Lord. It's a no-brainer."
The post had more than 13,000 likes and more than 1,000 comments Saturday evening, many of them offering sympathy for the loss to Zachary's family.
Zachary contracted the infection, known as primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM, while knee-boarding in a water-filled ditch Aug. 3 near his family's home.
The infection destroys brain tissue and is highly lethal — one out of the 128 people infected in the U.S. since 1962 has survived it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, although an Arkansas teenager is the latest to survive the infection.
Antibiotics defeated the infection Wednesday, but Zachary's family acknowledged online it was a small victory because of the amount of damage his brain suffered.
Sonya Crews, 34, of LaBelle, said guests at a fundraiser for Zachary's family Saturday were in high spirits and didn't expect bad news.
"I was surprised," said Crews, a family friend, "because I have high faith in the Lord and I was expecting a miracle."
Religious faith is helping Zachary's family bear the tragedy of losing a son, Crews said.
Crews has lived in LaBelle her entire life and has never seen anything bring together the community as has Zachary's story.
Saturday's fundraiser at LeBelle Rodeo Grounds sold more than 1,000 dinners at $8 a plate, she said. An auction raised at least another $6,000.
Crews also is comforted by Zachary's family's decision to donate his organs.
"He will continue to live and save lives," she said.
Crews remembers Zachary as an athletic, outgoing boy.
"You always see him smiling," she said.
Zachary's family could not be reached for comment Saturday. The Miami Children's Hospital declined comment.
"I hope that Zac continues to touch people and his time here is remembered forever," Saturday's post on his Facebook page states. "We thank everyone for being so caring and I know it's going to be tough on us at first, but we have an awesome support team back home and we are grateful for that. The battle is over for Zac but he won the war."