Teen’s hands, feet amputated after ‘flu-like symptoms’

In the heart of Tennessee, a seemingly ordinary summer took a harrowing turn for Mathias Uribe, a vibrant 14-year-old boy. What began as what his parents thought was a routine case of the flu turned into a life-altering nightmare. This tragic story sheds light on a rare and deadly bacterial infection that would ultimately amputate Mathias’s hands and feet.

The Descent into Amputation

Mathias Uribe’s ordeal commenced with what appeared to be flu-like symptoms.1 His parents, like any loving caregivers, promptly sought medical attention for their son, taking him to the doctor twice in the early summer. However, the situation took a dire turn as June neared its end, with Mathias’s condition worsening daily.2

The pivotal moment he arrived when Mathias’s heart stopped beating, a terrifying event that led to his admission to the emergency room on June 302. There, his family would receive a grim diagnosis: Mathias was suffering from pneumonia and Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS).

STSS, a condition defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as “an infection with Streptococcus pyogenes accompanied by a sudden onset of shock, organ failure, and frequently death,” is a rarity in the medical world.

Even though STSS is exceptionally uncommon, it presents a grave threat. Recent reports have indicated increased cases, particularly among children with influenza infections. Dr. Katie Boyle, a pediatrician who played a pivotal role in Mathias’s care, expressed that while influenza can weaken the body, causing injury to the airway and lungs, it also paves the way for bacterial infections like STSS to take hold.

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The Agonizing Decision Towards Amputation

Mathias Uribe’s life hung in the balance as he was airlifted to the pediatric ICU at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, where he was placed on life support treatment.

Days turned into weeks, and the agonizing decision loomed large: while Mathias’s organs could be saved, his hands and feet had not received adequate blood flow, necessitating their amputation. It was an unfathomable choice for his family, forever altering his life.

Resilience and Hope

Throughout this heart-wrenching journey, Mathias Uribe has demonstrated remarkable resilience. He is a cross-country runner, a piano player, and a young boy with dreams and aspirations.3 Despite the immense challenges he now faces, Mathias’s unwavering spirit shines through.

The Uribe family has initiated a GoFundMe campaign, titled “#MiracleforMathias,” to help cover the extensive medical expenses that this medical odyssey has incurred. The campaign has garnered immense support, with close to $245,000 raised as of the latest update.

Mathias Uribe’s story is a testament to the strength of the human spirit in the face of unimaginable adversity. What began as flu-like symptoms became a life-threatening battle against a rare and deadly bacterial infection. Mathias’s journey, marked by the amputation of his hands and feet, is a reminder of the fragility of life and the importance of resilience and community support.

As Mathias continues his fight for recovery, his family’s unwavering determination to provide him with the best possible care and a promising future stands as a beacon of hope. Their GoFundMe campaign exemplifies the power of collective empathy and compassion in times of crisis.

In closing, Mathias Uribe’s story serves as a poignant reminder of the unpredictable nature of health crises and the indomitable spirit of those who refuse to surrender in the face of adversity.

Keep Reading: Mother nearly dies after 13-year-old bite turns into sepsis


  1. 14-year-old boy loses hands, feet after ‘flu-like symptoms’.” KTLA. Laura Morrison. September 14, 2023.
  2. What started as flu symptoms leads to Tennessee teen having hands, legs amputated.” USA Today. Christopher Cann. September 14, 2023.
  3. 14-year-old boy has hands, legs amputated after flu-like symptoms turn deadly.” NY Post. Patrick Reilly. September 13, 2023.