Doctors of Monroe Carrel Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt had to remove 14-year-old Mathias Uribe’s hands and legs due to Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome infection.
“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,”Uribe’s mother expressed.
For the past two months, Mathias has been under the medical team’s care at Monroe Carrel Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. This journey began when he was diagnosed with pneumonia and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, a severe condition that led to cardiac arrest. Mathias was placed on an ECMO machine to save his life, which circulated blood throughout his body for nearly two weeks.
However, despite these efforts, blood circulation to all his extremities was compromised, necessitating the amputation of all four limbs.
“I said when we got to the doctors when we came there, ‘please don’t use the word amputation,'” Uribe’s mother added. “Let’s use ‘remove.'”
Leading Mathias’s care team is Dr. Katie Boyle, an ICU pediatrician who fought to preserve every inch of his limbs. His condition is exceptionally rare, according to Dr. Boyle.
“It’s extremely rare,” “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. Boyle
Dr. Boyle also stressed that there was nothing Uribe’s parents could have done differently to prevent the amputations. She advised parents to ensure their children receive flu shots. And to closely monitor them when they are ill, mainly if they exhibit high fever, struggle to consume fluids or resist waking up from sleep. In such cases, immediate medical attention is crucial.
After nearly a dozen surgeries, Mathias still faces a few more on the road to recovery. His parents hold onto the hope that, upon leaving the hospital, he will be one step closer to jumping and running, even if it means relying on prosthetics.
“You are going to have an amazing life,” Uribe’s mother assured him, referencing a heartfelt 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.”
“I told him we are going to be your arms and legs until we figure all of this out,” Uribe’s father added.
Both of Mathias’s parents anticipate that he will continue his stay at Monroe Carrel Jr. Children’s Hospital for another month. They are already making plans for his prosthetics and rehabilitation in Atlanta.
What is Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome?
Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS) is a rare, bacterial infection. And caused by group A Streptococcus (GAS) bacteria. It can progress rapidly, leading to dangerous drops in blood pressure, multiple organ failure, and even death.
STSS symptoms can vary. Including
- High fever
- A rash resembling sunburn
- Low blood pressure
- Rapid heart rate and breathing
- Muscle pain
- Seizures, and disorientation.
Toxins produced by GAS bacteria trigger the condition. It can harm body tissues and organs, contributing to the symptoms.
STSS can stem from various sources.
- skin infections (like impetigo or cellulitis)
- surgical wounds, strep throat, mastitis (breast infection)
- necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating disease)
- certain viral infections such as influenza and chickenpox
Although there is no foolproof way to prevent STSS. Practicing good hygiene, keeping wounds clean and covered, and seeking prompt treatment for skin infections can be helpful. And getting vaccinated against influenza and chickenpox can help reduce the risk.