A Tennessee teenager who exhibited regular flu symptoms ended up so ill with a bacterial infection that doctors amputated his hands and feet to save his life, according to a report from the New York Post.
Mathias Uribe was a normal, active 14-year-old until he caught the flu and it became severe, according to the report.
His parents, faced with an awful decision, authorized amputation of their son’s hands and feet to save his life.
Mathias had been receiving medical care at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital for more than two months, following his June 30 admission, according to a WSMV report.
The teen was diagnosed with pneumonia and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, which led to a cardiac arrest, the WSMV report noted.
In a bid to save his life, Mathias was connected to an ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) machine.
The ECMO machine circulated blood throughout his body for a fortnight, giving his heart and lungs the much-needed rest.
“It saved his life,” his father, Edgar Uribe, stated.
A complication arose as sufficient blood wasn’t reaching his extremities, leading to the painful decision of amputation. His hands were amputated at the wrist, and his legs were taken off below the knee.
Mathias, a multitalented teenager who was actively involved in cross country, soccer and piano, now faces a future with prosthetic limbs.
“I told him we are going to be your arms and legs until we figure all of this out,” his father said.
Dr. Katie Boyle, the ICU pediatrician overseeing Mathias’ treatment, shed light on the teen’s severe reaction to flu-like symptoms.
“It’s extremely rare,” she explained. “Sometimes when you get the flu it does set you up for a bacterial infection. But even then, most kids don’t get nearly as sick as Mathias did.”
Boyle emphasized the importance of flu shots for children and advised parents to be vigilant about symptoms like high fever, difficulty in swallowing fluids or an unusually deep sleep.
The 14-year-old has received more than one dozen surgeries and is expected to be hospitalized for another month. His parents are exploring rehabilitation options in Atlanta, where he will receive prosthetics.
“You are going to have an amazing life,” his mother Catalina told him. “You are going to go to MIGT. You are going to do whatever you want to do. You don’t have limits because you are here, Mathias, you are here.”
The Uribe family initiated a GoFundMe campaign, which has received $249,000 in donations from 3,700 individuals by Thursday morning.