A teen piano starlet from Tennessee has had his hands and feet removed after a flu-like illness led to a deadly immune overreaction.
Mathias Uribe, 14, from Sumer County, became ill with what appeared to be just a regular cold in mid-June but within weeks could barely breathe and was rushed to the ER.
Doctors diagnosed him with toxic shock syndrome, which happens when infections release toxins into the bloodstream, where they spread to the organs and cause damage.
When his lungs began to fail, he was put on life support, but his body struggled to pump blood properly, causing the skin on his extremities to rot and turn gangrenous, forcing doctors to amputate all four of his limbs.
Mathias’s mother, Catalina Uribe, said it is ‘really hard’ to watch videos of him running and playing the piano since he had them cut off. ‘But at the same time, I look at him and I’m like, ‘he’s here,”‘ she said.
Mathias was a talented piano player before his amputation. His parents hope he will be able to play again one day with prosthetics
Dr Katie Boyle, an ICU pediatrician, is the head of Mathias’s care team who tried to save what they could of his limbs. His case was ‘extremely rare’, she told WSMV.
She said: ‘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.’
Mathias suffered from streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, caused by the group A streptococcus bacteria, which are commonly found in the throat and on the skin and are normally benign.
When someone’s immune system is already weakened from an infection, it leaves them vulnerable to relatively harmless bacteria.
Mathias ordeal took a turn on June 30 when he was rushed to hospital and suffered a cardiac arrest.
He was airlifted to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt where there was a life-support machine.
After 20 days of intense treatments, doctors broke the news to Mathias’s parents that his hands and feet would have to be amputated.
While the life-support machine had saved his life in the 12 days he was on it by supplying blood to his major organs, his extremities had not received enough blood flow in that time.
Mathias (pictured left) with his mother and younger brother
Mathias was a keen athlete at school
When a limb is deprived of blood flow and oxygen for too long, it can lead to the tissue to die and get infected. If the damage is serious, amputation might be required.
In addition, when someone has sepsis, the inflammation causes blood to clot and become thick, making it harder to get around the body. As nutrients cannot get to the tissues in the fingers, hands, arms, toes, feet, and legs, the body’s tissues begin to die, which can cause gangrene.
This dead tissue must be removed because it can cause infection to spread. If the gangrenous area is small enough, the surgeon may be able to remove just enough to stop the spread. However, if the damage is extensive, an amputation may be needed.
On July 21, Mathias’s medical team amputated his left leg below the knee. Four days later, his right leg was amputated just below the knee. His hands were removed just above the wrist on August 1.
Sepsis is a medical emergency health experts call a ‘silent killer.’ It’s caused by the body’s extreme reaction to an infection. Sepsis occurs when chemicals released in the bloodstream to fight an infection cause inflammation throughout the body. This triggers a chain reaction, causing organs to fail.
Mathias has undergone more than a dozen surgeries but still has a couple more to go.
He is expected to stay at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt for
His family is raising money to cover his medical bills and the cost of prosthetics. They hope in time Mathias will be able to play the piano and participate in sports again.
‘You are going to have an amazing life,’ his mother said, referencing a conversation she had with her son. ‘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.’
His father added: ‘I told him we are going to be your arms and legs until we figure all of this out.’