14-year-old boy loses hands, feet after ‘flu-like symptoms’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJW) — The parents of a 14-year-old boy are warning others about a rare illness that started out seeming like the simple flu and turned into a nightmare.

After going to the doctor twice earlier this summer for prolonged influenza, Mathias Uribe landed in the emergency room on June 30 after his “heart stopped,” his parents said in a GoFundMe campaign.

He was reportedly diagnosed with pneumonia and Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS), which is defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “as an infection with Streptococcus pyogenes accompanied by sudden onset of shock, organ failure, and frequently death.”

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Uribe was eventually admitted to the ICU at Monroe Carrel Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville. He was taken off life support by mid July, but by early August, his doctors and parents had to make the tough decision to amputate his hands and feet due to poor blood flow.

“It is extremely hard for us to explain the ups and downs we have felt in the last few weeks. Our brilliant, 14-year-old son is a fighter,” his family said in the GoFundMe. “Our son has always been a happy, tender, loving boy, who touches the heart of everyone around him. At school, he has always excelled, and his teachers always have nothing but praise for his work ethic and eagerness to learn and go above and beyond both inside and outside the classroom.”

Uribe’s doctor told WSMV4 in Nashville that there was nothing the teen’s parents could have done differently.

“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,” Dr. Katie Boyle told the news outlet.

While still extremely uncommon, a letter to the editor in the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal noted clinicians should be aware of reported cases of STSS increasing in Europe and the U.S. last year, especially in children who have influenza infections.

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“We are in awe of his unwavering spirit and determination, which will undoubtedly guide him through the challenges that lie ahead,” Uribe’s family said.

The GoFundMe has been set up to help with the boy’s medical expenses and prosthetics.

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