Catching Up: Young Augie Matthies Coping with Heart Defect


December 29, 2010

The Matthies families stayed at our Hope House in Oak Lawn while Augie received treatment at Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital.

Catching up: Young Augie Matthies coping with heart defect

Bill Ackerman


Augie Matthies will be 2 next month, but he started his life with his first heart surgery when he was only 9 days old. Augie plays with his cars in his family’s Downers Grove home with his mom, Joanna on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010.



By Janice Hoppe,


GateHouse News Service


Posted Dec 28, 2010 @ 06:00 AM


Downers Grove, IL —




Family keeps charity close to heart


Open heart surgery became a permanent reality for Augie Matthies’ life when he was just 9 days old.


Downers Grove residents Joanna and David Matthies were excited for the birth of their third son, Augie. But things took a scary turn when five months into Joanna’s pregnancy, their doctor found a problem with Augie heart.


“At his 20-week ultrasound, the doctor focused on the heart for about 40 minutes,” David Matthies said in an April interview. “He said, ‘I don’t see a second valve.’”


Augie was diagnosed with truncus arteriosus, a rare heart defect in which one vessel fails to form. This occurs when the two large arteries carrying blood away from the heart don’t form properly and one large artery is created instead.


The single vessel carries blood to both the body and to the lungs. Because of this, Augie’s heart was working inefficiently.


Joanna said Augie was born at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital Jan. 20, 2009, and when his vital signs did not improve, he was transported to Hope Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn.


“They did an eight-hour surgery,” David Matthies said. “They grafted a donor valve into his heart.”


Because of the care in Hope Children’s Hospital and the family being allowed to stay at the Ronald McDonald House in Oak Lawn while their son was in the hospital, the Matthies family has begun to hold supply drives at their home. The supply drives were held to show the family’s appreciation to the Ronald McDonald House.


In April of this year, the Downers Grove Reporter told Augie’s story and the Matthies family saw an increase in donations.



Augie sees second round of surgery and fundraiser to be held this year


Augie underwent a second round of open heart surgery in October, and again the family stayed at the Ronald McDonald house in Oak Lawn.


Joanna Matthies said during a routine checkup, doctors found Augie’s aortic arch was narrowing again and needed to be repaired.


“His donor valve was getting small and he needed another one,” Joanna Matthies said. “He needed to have surgery sooner than later.”


Augie is not on a transplant list as doctors are using bovine valves.


Augie was able to recover quicker from his most recent surgery than he did following his surgery as a newborn.


“He was great,” Joanna Matthies said. “His recovery was awesome. He was back home in a week.”


Starting two years ago, the Matthies family began collecting supplies such as sheets, toilet paper, laundry detergent, dish soap, linens and other basic needs for the Ronald McDonald House.


“This past May, our two-car garage was packed with supplies and we had to rent a box truck to take it to the Ronald McDonald House,” Joanna Matthies said. “We built up the supply room.”


The other Matthies children held a bake and lemonade sale during donation day on April 24. With the money collected, the Matthies family purchased nine iPod docking stations for parents to be able to hook up a radio and CD player for their children in Hope Children’s Hospital.


“I stay in touch with the nurses there and told them, ‘I have this money raised.’ And instead of giving cash, I wanted to buy something,” Joanna Matthies said. “So that’s what we did.”


The supply drive and bake and lemonade sale will continue again in 2011 to provide basic needs for the hospital and Ronald McDonald House.


As for Augie, since the valve does not grow with him, he will have at least three to five more surgeries from now until adulthood.