In the Fall of 2010, my wife’s water broke at less than five months. There was no apparent cause for this and, the reasons for the complication are still unknown. We were told by the doctors to go home and wait for a miscarriage. Their prognosis was grave, because there was virtually no amniotic fluid left in the placenta to allow for our son to survive. Ironically, on the day we were first told to abort Matthew, he started kicking his mother, which filled us with the reassurance and faith that he was in there and alive. It was like he was saying:
“I hear you Mom and Dad, don’t give up on me” .
My wife made it to 24 weeks which made Matthew medically viable in the eyes of the doctors following Ashley’s pregnancy. She was able to carry Matthew until 29 weeks, a full 10 weeks after her water broke! On February 2, 2011, Matthew was born at Winnie Palmer Hospital in Orlando, Florida at 13.5 inches and 2lbs 5oz. And this is where our journey began.
Matthew never let his physical disabilities stop him from enjoying life and positively affecting the people around him. At times, Matthew would be winded just laughing or moving from the living room to the kitchen. Yet despite this he would also want to play and get around the best he could. Matthew would play with stacking cups which had the capability to hide something in the smallest one. He would then frequently ask me “Daddy, what is inside?” Despite doing this a million times as parents can attest to, I would have to ask him what was inside. This lesson of not knowing what is inside resonates with me more now than ever. We don't know what is inside of us, not only in healthy people, but especially with these young children battling serious illnesses. Is there a future doctor, president, lawyer, teacher, or construction worker in them? And don’t they deserve the chance to find out? That is the legacy that we hope to continue.
On April 14, 2016, Matthew passed way due to complications from his ongoing complex medical issues . Matthew lived for over five years with a severe diagnosis of a disease called pulmonary hypertension. He conquered obstacles with determination and courage, which motivates us every day. As the saying goes:
“the greater the sacrifice the greater the reward”
Thus, we will make Matthew’s sacrifice a long lasting legacy for helping critical and medically complex children, and that’s why we started Matthew’s Gift.
Matthew’s Gift strives to accomplish the following goals:
Assist families in need of financial services such as gas, lodging, gift cards and other financial support.
Raise funds for local hospitals to obtain medical supplies and equipment to care for children that need complex care and develop or enhance dedicated complex care units.
Assist in the research and development of medications to help children specifically with pulmonary hypertension.
Assist families financially for funerals or other last needs expenses. While our goal is to eradicate the need for these expenses, we understand it’s still a reality for many families around the world.
We plan to seek direct support from the community. We will host family-friendly and formal events to raise money for these initiatives, but above all, we will serve the Greater Daytona Beach and Orlando areas graciously and humbly.
We are carrying on Matthew’s legacy and working to make sure families don’t have to go through what we did. Matthew truly was a gift, and it is in that gift that we look and work towards the goals of helping children and their families in our communities that are faced with complex medical needs.