Downers Grove Family Keeps Charity Close to their Heart

April 21, 2010

The Matthies family of Downers Grove wants to give back.

Downers Grove family keeps charity close to their heart

Augie Matthies was diagnosed with a rare heart disease and was helped by Ronald McDonald House & Hope Children’s Hospital. The Matthies family now want to give back to the Hope Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House for everything they did for the family during Augie’s surgery and recovery.

By Janice Hoppe,

Downers Grove Reporter

Posted Apr 20, 2010 @ 02:56 PM

Last update Apr 20, 2010 @ 05:23 PM

Downers Grove, IL —

At 9 days old, open heart surgery became a permanent part of Augie Matthies’ life.

Downers Grove residents Joanna and David Matthies were busting with excitement as they prepared for the birth of their third son. But about five months into the pregnancy, the bad news was delivered.

“At her 20-week ultra sound, the doctor focused on the heart for about 40 minutes,” David Matthies said. “He said ‘I don’t see a second valve.’”

Augie was diagnosed with having Truncus Arteriosus, a rare heart defect in which one vessel fails to form.

It occurs when the two large arteries carrying blood away from the heart don’t form properly and one large artery is created instead.

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

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

“At nine days old, he had open heart surgery,” Joanna Matthies said.

After being transported to Hope, David Matthies said Augie’s vital signs immediately improved and he could tell it was the right place for him.

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

Augie was in recovery for a month, and  his parents wanted a place to stay to be closer to their newborn.

Joanna Matthies called the Ronald McDonald house in Oak Lawn for lodging. Augie’s brothers PJ, 3, and Robert, 6, stayed with their parents in the Ronald McDonald House on the weekends and had sort of a slumber party there, David Matthies said.

“The Ronald McDonald House was a huge blessing,” David Matthies said. “It made life more tolerable.”
In the house, the family had a room to sleep and a place to have a home cooked meal to take their minds off Augie’s precarious position.

“We will stay there again,” David Matthies said. “It lets you be a family still.”

Because of the great experience the family had at Hope Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald house, they are hosting a drive for supplies for the two places. Every year, the Matthies family hosts and plans to host in the future a supplies drive where they collect basic need items for the Ronald McDonald House. The drive for supplies will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 24.

Donations can be dropped off at the Matthies’ home, 4417 Downers Drive.

PJ and Robert are also hosting a bake sale and lemonade stand during the drive to raise money to support the Hope Children’s Hospital Pediatric Surgical Heart Unit.

At about 2 or 3 years old, Augie will be back in Hope Children’s Hospital for a valve replacement, and the family will likely be seeking another stay at the Ronald McDonald House.

“His valve does not grow with him,” David Matthies said. “From now to adulthood, he will have at least three to five surgeries.”

Augie’s Drive for Supplies

Date: April 24

Time: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where: Matties home, 4417 Downers Drive, Downers Grove, Il.

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