TAMPA, FLA. (WSVN) – Decades after she survived a brain-eating disease, a Florida woman is sending support to a teen fighting a similar battle, and she has a heartfelt message for the patient’s family.
Pictures of Aimee Rossiter in a hospital hallway and her room, her head bandaged, always bring her to tears.
“It was a scary time, very scary time, not knowing if I was going to make it,” she said.
The year was 1993, and Rossiter was just 12 years old. She said her face was swelling, she had a fever, and her symptoms were worsening.
Doctors eventually diagnosed her with a rare and often deadly brain-eating amoeba.
“They did tell my parents that they didn’t think I would be able to ever walk, talk or that I was going to possibly be blind,” she said.
After several years and several surgeries, Rossiter made a full recovery. Now, nearly 30 years later, the Tampa resident has a family of her own.
“I feel very fortunate,” she said.
Rossiter said all those emotions came flooding back when she saw Caleb Ziegelbauer’s story.
The 13-year-old boy has been fighting a brain-eating amoeba for two months. He contracted the parasite while swimming at Port Charlotte Beach, north of Fort Myers.
“I know what he’s going through. Like, I know he doesn’t know what’s happening right now, and his family, either,” she said.
Ziegelbauer and his family flew from Tampa to Chicago on Wednesday for specialized treatment.
“Every finger twitch we see makes us excited for what’s to come and hopeful,” his mother told reporters at a news conference.
The boy’s loved ones remain hopeful that the teen will beat the odds.
Brain-eating amoebas are extremely rare but almost always fatal. There have been 155 cases recorded in the U.S.
All but four of these cases were deadly, but not Aimee’s.
“That’s why I tell them, Caleb’s family, not to give up. He’ll make it through. It makes me emotional,” she said as she fought back tears.
Through these tears, this survivor has this message for Ziegelbauer and his family.
“Don’t give up, have faith, keep hope,” she said.
Rossiter said her case was so rare at the time that it was written about in the New England Journal of Medicine.
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