Doctors remove 14-year-old boy’s hands, feet after he experiences flu-like symptoms

The parents of a 14-year-old Sumner County boy made a difficult decision that saved their son’s life.
Published: Sep. 12, 2023 at 7:55 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV/Gray News) - The parents of a 14-year-old boy in Tennessee made a difficult decision to amputate all four of his limbs to save his life.

Mathias Uribe’s parents said they knew something wasn’t right when Mathias’ normal flu-like symptoms turned almost deadly, so they rushed him to the hospital.

Edgar and Catalina Uribe said they still see the potential for their son to use his feet to run and his hands to play endless melodies on the piano.

“Right now, for me, it is really hard to watch all of those videos, but at the same time I look at him and I’m like, ‘He’s here,’” Catalina Uribe said.

Mathias has been at the Monroe Carrel Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt for the last two months. He went there after he was diagnosed with pneumonia and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome and went into cardiac arrest. He was also put on an ECMO machine, which pumps blood throughout the body, for almost two weeks, saving his life.

“That flow wasn’t getting to all of his extremities, so they had to amputate all of his four extremities,” Edgar Uribe said.

“I said when we got to the doctors when we came there, ‘Please don’t use the word amputation,’” Catalina Uribe said. “Let’s use, ‘Remove.’”

Dr. Katie Boyle, an ICU pediatrician, is the head of Mathias’ care team who tried to save every inch of his limbs. She said his condition is something she hardly ever sees.

“It’s extremely rare,” 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.”

Boyle also said there was nothing Mathias’ parents could have done sooner to prevent his amputations. She said parents should make sure their children get their flu shots and to monitor them when they are sick to see if they get a high fever, cannot drink fluids, or refuse to wake up if they are asleep. If these symptoms occur, that is when they should be taken to the hospital.

Mathias has gone through almost a dozen surgeries, and his care team said he has a few more to come.

Edgar and Catalina Uribe hope that he will be able to function with prosthetic limbs when he leaves the hospital.

“You are going to have an amazing life,” Catalina Uribe 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.”

Mathias’ parents said they expect him to be in the hospital for another month. They said they are now looking at a place in Atlanta for Matthias to receive prosthetics and rehabilitation.

“I told him we are going to be your arms and legs until we figure all of this out,” said Edgar Uribe.

Anyone who would like to support Mathias’ recovery can donate to his GoFundMe.