Donate blood to help kids like Augie Matthies get through open-heart surgery

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. (WLS) -- Augie Matthies, a 9-year-old boy from west suburban Downers Grove, was born with a congenital heart defect.

We first met Augie two years ago, when he shared his dreams of becoming an NHL hockey player.

"He was playing ice hockey, which was a passion. He had to stop playing hockey due to his heart condition," said Joanna Matthies, Augie's mother.

Not letting his condition deter him, Augie has changed it up.

"I switched over to baseball because I cannot play hockey anymore because of my heart. Baseball is a super fun sport and I'm, well, at least I think I'm good at it," Augie said.

Augie was born missing his pulmonary valve. Since birth, he's undergone two open-heart surgeries and six angiograms.

"In gym, in school, when I run outside... It's just hard," Augie said.

"He knows how to stop and slow down and regroup and get his heart rate lower," Joanna said.

Augie is expected to have more heart surgeries in the future, as he continues to outgrow his heart valves.

"During all of these procedures, we've relied on blood donation at every single one of his open-heart surgeries and his future surgeries," Joanna said, "He needs blood donation. It's critical."

"When I have my surgeries, I lose blood. So I need blood to do my surgeries," Augie said. "It helps my heart valve run better."

Help save lives by donating blood at this year's 5th Annual Great Chicago Blood Drive on Jan. 16 at one of three locations: the CDW in Vernon Hills, on the seventh floor for the Merchandise Mart and the Drake Oak Brook Hotel. Each location will be open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Make an appointment by downloading the American Red Cross Blood Donor App by visiting redcrossblood.org (enter sponsor code: ABC7Chicago) or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
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