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Disabled teen hoping for return of custom wheelchair after it was stolen

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -- A Salt Lake City family is asking the public for help to find a stolen custom electric wheelchair for their disabled teenager, that disappeared from the family vehicle a couple days ago.

KSTU reported that mother Andrea Carbine said she thought she locked the doors to their Suburban Tuesday night, but on Wednesday morning, she came out to find thieves had rummaged through their SUV. When she opened the back door, she realized her son Rhett’s wheelchair was missing.

Rhett Carbine was born with a rare genetic disorder, short rib polydactyly syndrome type 2, which Andrea explained is a lethal skeletal dysplasia.

When he was a year old, Rhett started years of surgeries to expand his rib cage. When he was around 10, he said his ribs and lungs stopped growing.

“I don't take in as much oxygen as a normal person would, because of my small lungs,” he said.

With the lungs of a child, the 19-year old can’t breathe without an oxygen tube. Andrea said his lungs only function at 11 percent.

Thankfully, Andrea said Shriners Hospitals for Children in Salt Lake City offered a loaner wheelchair. They fitted it with a makeshift oxygen holder for now, but she said it’s temporary until the family can figure out how to replace Rhett’s $8,000 wheelchair.

Salt Lake City Police said it is investigating the case.