By Cody Thompson
CROCKETT – While most new parents are changing diapers and sharing photos of their newborn on social media at this point, a Crockett family is facing sleepless nights and financial strife as their 1-month-old son fights for his life against a rare form of heart disease at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.
Matthew was born on May 1 at Texas Children’s Hospital and was quickly sent to the neonatal intensive care unit for the first two weeks of his life.
While in neonatal ICU, Matthew was diagnosed with Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome with Pulmonary Atresia and Ticuspid Stenosis.
“Matthew is perfect in every way except for his heart,” Matthew’s great-grandmother Frances Lee told the Messenger on Tuesday. “He’s alive, he’s breathing and he’s eating. It’s just his heart that’s the problem.”
“HRHS is a rare form of heart disease in which the right ventricle, tricuspid and pulmonary valves of the heart are underdeveloped, leading to a right-to-left shunting (or pushing) of the blood through the inter-atrial septal defect,” according to a Miracle for Matthew press release. “Pulmonary atresia is a birth defect of the pulmonary valve, which regulates blood flow from the right ventricle (lower-right chamber of the heart) to the main pulmonary artery (the blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the lungs). Pulmonary atresia is when the aforementioned valve did not form at all and no blood can go from the heart to the lungs.”
Since his birth, Matthew has been subjected to daily health-monitoring tests, been confined to a ventilator to assist his breathing and has had several surgeries performed on him with more to come in the future, the press release said.
“Matthew has already endured in his 30 days on this earth more than most people have to endure in a lifetime,” Lee said. “His first open heart surgery was at 12-days-old, to place a shunt from his lungs to his heart to allow for oxygen flow.”
Matthew’s parents, Stephen and Megan Easley, have temporarily relocated to Houston and are currently living in an RV park to be closer to Matthew while he is in the hospital, the press release said.
Stephen was born with a rare vision disorder, making it difficult for him to find work, and Megan was working at the Walmart in Crockett until a week prior to the infant’s delivery, the press release said.
“Stephen and Megan are in a tough spot financially, due to the dual expenses of the RV park and their home in Crockett, as well as the hospital bills for Matthew,” Lee said.
Matthew has been on the heart transplant waiting list since the day he was born, and on Tuesday, May 23 was moved to the priority spot on the list, the press release said.
“Matthew is a fighter. He’s already overcome so much in his short life and I know he will pull through this,” Lee said. “I’m just ready for the day all of the wires he’s hooked up to are removed and we can all finally hold him and play with him.”
A bake sale will be held to raise funds for the Easley family starting at 8 a.m. Saturday, June 3 in the parking lots of the Brookshire Brothers and Walmart in Crockett.
For more information about the bake sale, visit the Miracle for Matthew Facebook page, or call Lee at 903-573-2677, Millie Cloer at 281-728-2809 or Shirley Land at 713-302-3311.
Cody Thompson may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.