The Fabrizio Stabile Foundation

While Fabrizio was mowing his lawn on the afternoon of Sunday September 16, he suddenly experienced a severe headache and went to lie down.  After taking medicine for the headache, he ended up sleeping through the night, and when he awoke 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 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 21st we learned the heart-breaking news that Fabrizio was pronounced brain dead as a result of this brain-eating amoeba. 

We created The Fabrizio Stabile Foundation for Naegleria Fowleri Awareness to bring awareness to, and educate as many people as possible about, this rare and preventable infection.  We aim to do this through an annual fundraiser in Fabrizio’s memory in hopes that this will not affect another family.  Please help us in keeping Fabrizio’s memory alive.

*The CDC includes the following description of Naegleria fowleri on its website:

Naegleria fowleri (commonly referred to as the “brain-eating amoeba” or “brain-eating ameba”), is a free-living microscopic ameba*, (single-celled living organism). It can cause a rare** and devastating infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). The ameba is commonly found in warm freshwater (e.g. lakes, rivers, and hot springs) and soil. Naegleria fowleri usually infects people when contaminated water enters the body through the nose. Once the ameba enters the nose, it travels to the brain where it causes PAM, which is usually fatal. Infection typically occurs when people go swimming or diving in warm freshwater places, like lakes and rivers. In very rare instances, Naegleria infections may also occur when contaminated water from other sources (such as inadequately chlorinated swimming pool water or heated and contaminated tap water) enters the nose. You cannot get infected from swallowing water contaminated with Naegleria.
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Stephanie Papastephanou 
Ventnor City, NJ
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