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Toddler recovers from unknown infection that forced quadruple amputation

A two-year-old boy who lost his arms and legs recovers at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health after being attacked by an unknown illness.

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) – A two-year-old boy who lost his arms and legs recovers at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health after being attacked by an unknown illness.

Jeremiah Cox came down with a fever September 29. When his temperature soared, his parents took him to the hospital the next day.

They never imagined he would still be there almost a month later and lose all his limbs. The quadruple amputation became necessary to save his life.

Jeremiah is out of intensive care but just beginning a long road to recovery.

"He's back to how he was," said his mother, Ashley Cox. "He's smiling. He's laughing. He has some bad days. That's normal."

"I think he's really recognizing that everything's gone," said Jeremiah’s father, Nicholas Thompson. "At this point, now he's realizing his life has changed."

Doctors amputated both of the toddler's legs above the knee and both of his arms above the elbow to save his life.

An unknown bacterial infection attacked Jeremiah, sending his body into septic shock. His blood pressure was dangerously low, stopping blood flow to his extremities and causing purpura, tiny blood clots that caused purple bruising all over his arms and legs.

The little boy’s extremities shut down and were dying. The threat of the infection spreading up his arms and legs forced doctors to amputate.

"Just to watch your child lay there and watch everything die, and then basically watching your son die in front of you - it's crazy," said Ashley.

"It's unreal," said Nicholas.

Immediate treatment with antibiotics stopped the infection but also prevented doctors from knowing what really happened to Jeremiah.

"It's heartbreaking but I'm just glad that he's here," said Ashley. "No matter what he went through, what he lost, he's here and that's all that matters. I get to talk to my son. I get to see my son. I get to hear him talk to me, hold me and I get to hold him."

"He can show his love and affection to us," said Nicholas.

Doctors hope Jeremiah can move to a rehabilitation unit later this week.

"We’re just really hopeful that for him since he has such a great outlook - he's a very happy child, you can see him there - that with medical advances he'll be able to have some prosthetics and be able to have a great life after this too,” said Dr. Alyson Baker, fellow for Riley Hospital Pediatric Critical Care.

"I wonder how he's going to feel," said Nicholas. "We can't understand how he feels. We can't put ourselves in his position."

"We'll never understand how he feels," said Ashley. "But as long as we can sit there and help him through it, that's all we can do."

Jeremiah is one of four children, all four years old and younger. His parents are just 19 (Ashley) and 21 (Nicholas) years old.

Ashley gave birth to a healthy baby girl on October 10, while Jeremiah was in the hospital.

The family obviously has a full plate.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the family.