Twelve-year-old Treytun Garcia loves going to school, playing video games, riding his bike, and spending time outside with his younger siblings Kamila, Wakely, and Duke.
He just happens to do all of these things with a prosthetic leg.
At age 4, Treytun developed what looked like a rash on his left foot. He was soon diagnosed with linear scleroderma, an autoimmune disease characterized by the hardening of the skin and connective tissues. Treytun’s family was referred to rheumatologists in Omaha, who didn’t think Treytun’s case was severe.
Treytun’s parents, Leah and Ricardo, however, were not convinced. They decided to bring their son to University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.
“I came to Iowa City looking for answers,” says Leah.
The family met with UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital pediatric rheumatologist Polly Ferguson, MD, who began trying different combinations of medicine to control the disease.
Underneath Treytun’s skin, his leg muscles were like cardboard and his blood vessels had become so small that they were practically useless. When Treytun was 7, he underwent surgery to remove the damaged tissue and muscle in his left foot, replacing them with skin and tissue from his right thigh.
But the solution was only temporary, and soon Treytun’s issues worsened—his left calf muscle, leg, and foot were no longer growing, and the disease was still progressing up his leg. He was in pain with every step he took.
In spring 2013, Treytun made the decision to have his left leg amputated below the knee to halt the spreading scleroderma.
“He decided he wanted to be able to walk, run, and play sports that he had been restricted from enjoying because of the constant pain he was in,” says Leah.
Ferguson spoke with experts across the country regarding Treytun’s case to ensure that amputation was his best option.
“She’s really in-tune to what’s going on, and she really cares about what’s happening with Treytun,” says Leah.
Though Treytun was just 11 years old at the time, he was confident in his decision.
“I hurt a lot less and don’t have to worry about my leg anymore,” says Treytun.
“He was more worried about getting stuck with a needle for an IV than about the actual surgery,” Leah adds.
Though there is no cure for linear scleroderma, Treytun’s disease is now in remission. He comes to UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital every six months to monitor any disease progression, and sports a black and gold prosthetic leg—decorated with the iconic Tigerhawk logo—to make his Hawkeye pride known.
Family, friends, and Treytun’s UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital care team can see how much happier he is now that his scleroderma is under control, and his experiences and medical care have shaped his future in more ways than one.
“For years he’s been telling us he’s going to college to be an engineer,” says Leah. “But now he’s telling us he’s going to college to make prosthetics.”