West Virginia boy, 16, has both hands and feet AMPUTATED after a tickly throat led to sepsis and ‘mummified’ his limbs

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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  • Mason Jones went into sepsis 24 hours after being diagnosed with strep throat
  • Doctors gave him a one percent chance of survival, with him ‘beating the odds’
  • READ MORE: Teacher has feet and hands amputated, SORE THROAT led to sepsis
  • HAVE YOU OR A LOVED ONE BEEN AFFECTED BY SEPSIS? EMAIL HEALTH@DAILYMAIL.COM 

A teenage boy had to have his hands and feet amputated after a sore throat turned into deadly sepsis. 

What started as a regular cold in April last year turned out to be the start of a ‘living nightmare’ for Mason Jones, 16, from West Virginia.

His mother, Charde McMillan, told DailyMail.com that the teen started feeling a tickly throat and fatigue and was put on antibiotics – but within 24 hours, ‘his lips were all purple, and he had these purple blotches all over his skin.’

Mason, who loved video games, riding his bike, and building computers had gone into organ failure and sepsis, an extreme immune reaction that’s responsible for one in three US hospital deaths.

Mason was given just a one percent chance of survival

Mason Jones, 16, went into sepsis just 24 hours after doctors diagnosed him with strep throat. He was given a one percent chance of survival

As a result of poor circulation, Mason's limbs began turning purple and black. He later had to have both hands and feet amputated

As a result of poor circulation, Mason’s limbs began turning purple and black. He later had to have both hands and feet amputated

‘There were no other symptoms at first other than the strep throat symptoms: sore throat, fever, tiredness,’ Mrs McMillan said. ‘That’s all it was.’

‘It was like living in a nightmare.’

Mason was airlifted to University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville, where he spent three months on life support. 

He was diagnosed with streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS), a rare but serious infection caused the bacteria group A streptococcus – this most commonly leads to strep throat. 

STSS often begins with flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea, and vomiting. However, over time, blood pressure drops, while heart rate and breathing speed up. 

Patients experiencing dangerously low blood pressure are often put on vasopressors, which push blood back to vital organs.

However, this led to poor circulation. ‘There was no blood supply going to his hands and his feet,’ Mrs McMillan said. 

‘They essentially just died and were mummified. It was horrible.’ 

On June 6, 2023, doctors amputated both of Mason’s hands and roughly four inches of each arm. On July 15, three days before his 16th birthday, both of his legs were removed just below the knee at West Virginia University. 

'He games, he texts. He does everything without hands, and you wouldn't even really realize that he doesn't have hands,' Mrs McMillan said

‘He games, he texts. He does everything without hands, and you wouldn’t even really realize that he doesn’t have hands,’ Mrs McMillan said

Before his illness, Mason enjoyed riding his bike and hiking with his family. He is still able to play video games, one of his favorite hobbies

Before his illness, Mason enjoyed riding his bike and hiking with his family. He is still able to play video games, one of his favorite hobbies

'I've never experienced that type of like physical and emotional pain, watching my son suffer and being so helpless,' Mason's mother, Charde McMillan, told DailyMail.com

‘I’ve never experienced that type of like physical and emotional pain, watching my son suffer and being so helpless,’ Mason’s mother, Charde McMillan, told DailyMail.com

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 cause the immune system to go haywire. 

Instead of sending infection-fighting white blood cells to attack a foreign invader, it targets healthy tissues and organs.

Infections that lead to sepsis most commonly start in the lungs, urinary tract, skin, or gastrointestinal tract, but almost any infection can lead to sepsis – even things as innocuous as paper cuts.

Mason was also diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis. Also known as flesh-eating disease, necrotizing fasciitis is a severe, rapidly spreading infection that kills one in five sufferers, according to the CDC. It’s most commonly caused by group A strep.

Symptoms include a red or warm area of the skin that spreads quickly, severe pain, and fever. As necrotizing fasciitis spreads, it can cause ulcers or blisters on the skin, skin color changes, pus or oozing, dizziness, fatigue, diarrhea, and nausea. 

The CDC estimates 700 to 1,150 cases occur in the US every year. There are about 500 cases in the UK per year, according to the NHS.

The necrotizing fasciitis chewed through about 60 percent of Mason’s skin, leading him to need three skin grafting surgeries and care from a specialized burn unit at Akron Children’s Hospital in Akron, Ohio. 

Mason spent six months in hospitals in Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio as a result of sepsis, streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, and necrotizing fasciitis

Mason spent six months in hospitals in Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio as a result of sepsis, streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, and necrotizing fasciitis

Mason spent six months in hospitals in Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio as a result of sepsis, streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, and necrotizing fasciitis

Doctors also had to remove his tailbone, also known as the coccyx. ‘It ate all the way from the skin down to the bone,’ Mrs McMillan said.

‘There was a lot of healing time from that. The daily dressing changes were horrendous and painful.’ 

‘I’ve never experienced that type of like physical and emotional pain, watching my son suffer and being so helpless.’ 

Sepsis can closely resemble the flu, which makes it extremely difficult to spot early. 

There is no single test for sepsis, but doctors look for signs of infections with measures such as blood tests.

Sepsis can progress to septic shock, which is characterized by a severe drop in blood pressure.

Signs of septic shock, according to the Mayo Clinic, include not being able to stand up, extreme fatigue or not being able to stay awake, and a major change in mental status. 

The CDC recommends seeking help immediately if you have signs of sepsis. If left untreated, sepsis and septic shock are fatal. 

Mason is now working on regaining his independence. He has hand prosthetics and will soon be fitted with leg prosthetics to learn how to walk again

'He's not letting anything stop him or hold him back. There's no

Mason is now working on regaining his independence. He has hand prosthetics and will soon be fitted with leg prosthetics to learn how to walk again

Mason's family is raising money for his medical bills and other expenses on their GoFundMe page. 'He's an amazing kid. He's a miracle. They gave him a one percent chance of survival and he beat the odds,' Mrs McMillan said

Mason’s family is raising money for his medical bills and other expenses on their GoFundMe page. ‘He’s an amazing kid. He’s a miracle. They gave him a one percent chance of survival and he beat the odds,’ Mrs McMillan said

Mason then underwent physical therapy, and six months after he was first rushed to the hospital, he was released on October 11. 

He has since been hospitalized several times for complications like osteomyelitis in one leg. This is inflammation or swelling of bone tissue as a result of infection. 

This month, Mason will be fitted for leg prosthetics and then begin intensive physical therapy to learn how to walk again. 

Still, Mrs McMillan said her son has not let his condition keep him from hobbies like gaming. 

‘He games, he texts. He does everything without hands, and you wouldn’t even really realize that he doesn’t have hands,’ she said. 

Mrs McMillan also noted that her what Mason wants to do when he grows up changes every day, with one of his most recent ones being to become a cross-country truck driver. 

‘He talks about being a doctor because of what he went through and being able to help people,’ she said.

Sepsis impacts 1.7 million Americans every year, according to the CDC, and it kills 350,000 annually. 

Sepsis Alliance estimates that 75,000 US children develop sepsis every year, roughly 200 a day. This includes more than 5,000 deaths, or 18 every day.

Certain groups are more susceptible to the condition, including adults over age 65, children under one year, patients with weakened immune systems, and those who have had sepsis in the past. However, anyone can get it.

And, if a person recovers, they are more likely to have lasting health issues.

A study in the Journal of the American Heart Association found people hospitalized for sepsis or who had it after hospitalization were 38 percent more likely to be hospitalized again for any cause. 

This included a 43 percent increased risk for heart issues. 

According to Sepsis Alliance, about one in three children who survive sepsis experience cognitive issues like trouble remembering things or concentrating, and nearly half return to the hospital at least once. 

For now, the family is focused on helping Mason regain his independence, as he currently needs full-time care. This has also left his parents unable to work so they can tend to his needs.  

However, Mrs McMillan said that Mason has maintained a postive attitude throughout his illness, which has helped both he and his family cope. 

‘He’s just grateful to be alive and have survived something that’s really not survivable,’ Mrs McMillan said.

‘It really gives him the determination and perseverance to learn to do things in a new way now and adjust to this new way of life.’

‘He’s not letting anything stop him or hold him back. There’s no “I can’t” right now. He just goes for it. He’s not scared to try anything.’

‘He’s an amazing kid. He’s a miracle. They gave him a one percent chance of survival and he beat the odds.’ 

Mason’s family is raising money for his medical bills and other expenses on their GoFundMe page. 

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