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Treytun Garcia: the first Kid Captain

BY STACEY MURRAY | AUGUST 29, 2014 5:00 AM

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Treytun Garcia, 12, is described by those who know him as calm and smart, often displaying characteristics not common in someone who has yet to hit his teenage years.

And while Treytun has the hobbies and interests of other 12-year-olds — the Kansas City Chiefs, Iowa football, and his Xbox — he has made a few grown-up decisions thus far in his life.

For instance, at the age of 11, he made the choice to amputate his leg below the knee.

“By the time he made that decision, I don’t think anyone could’ve talked him out of it,” said Polly Ferguson, an UI assistant professor of pediatrics and the doctor who saw Treytun when he arrived in Iowa City.

Treytun, a sixth-grader from Ottumwa, will be this year’s first Kid Captain in a partnership between the UI Children’s Hospital and the Hawkeyes to share the inspirational stories of pediatric patients.

Treytun suffered from linear scleroderma, beginning at the age four all the way up through the age of 11, when he had a part of his leg amputated.

Linear scleroderma is an autoimmune disease. The disease’s main identifier is when the skin or other affected tissues harden, sometimes all the way down to the bone.

The Scleroderma Foundation estimates roughly 300,000 Americans have one of the two types of scleroderma.

Treytun’s mother, Leah Garcia, first noticed signs of his linear scleroderma when he was 4, when what looked like a heat rash developed on his left foot.

She took Treytun to the family doctor, who referred them to a dermatologist, who then sent the family to a hospital in Omaha. The doctors there told the family Treytun’s case wasn’t severe, but Leah Garcia wasn’t satisfied, so she took Treytun to the UI.

Ferguson said by the time she saw Treytun, his lower leg and ankle were almost rock hard because scar tissue started to develop in the affected leg.

The disease is treated with various immune suppressants, in hopes that the medication will keep the body from forming scar tissue, but they puts the patient at risk for infections.

Leah Garcia said eventually, the disease progressed. He was forced to strain his right leg when walking to compensate for his lacking left foot, causing pain on both legs.

Ferguson said amputation isn’t the regular treatment.

But for Treytun, he said his leg was painful, essentially useless, and it was holding him back. So after a long consideration, he decided he would be better off without the leg, and it was a decision that was difficult for everyone around him.

“I was OK with it,” Leah Garcia said. “But it was still the hardest to sign the papers … knowing that you’re helping him but wanting him to be okay.”

Treytun now sports a prosthetic leg with fabric feature the Hawkeyes and returns to the doctor for checkups regularly.

Now, he focuses on enjoying school — especially his science class — and likes to read, along with playing his video games.

The polite, well-mannered Iowa fan will take the field on Saturday, during the Iowa-Northern Iowa football game, where maybe he’ll get a chance to wish his favorite football player — Mark Weisman — good luck before kickoff.

“The Hawkeyes are my favorite football team,” he said.


In a previous version of the article, Polly Ferguson, an UI assistant professor of pediatrics and the doctor who saw Treytun when he arrived in Iowa City, was incorrectly referred to as Peggy. The DI regrets the error.


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