Matthew’s Mission: To Make Kids Smile

We think every kid on the North Shore is amazing. In fact, the May issue of our magazine is about just that–amazing kids and their efforts to “make it better.” Here’s a letter from a Glenview mom which is particularly inspiring.

From Jennifer DeVine:

In your March issue, I saw that you were looking for candidates for amazing kids and their mom. I would like to nominate my son, who is truly amazing and a living miracle.

His name is Matthew DeVine and he is 7 1/2 years young. When he was five years old he was diagnosed with an extremely rare blood disorder with the only known cure a bone marrow transplant. His disease was Myelodysplastic Syndrome(MDS) with monosomy 7. (Only 100 kids a year get this.) If left untreated it progresses to AML with much lower odds of survival.

We made the heart wrenching decision to have him undergo the transplant, however we were unable to find a suitable match for him. So many amazing people in our community (Glenview) and beyond (Winnetka, Wilmette, Arlington Heights, Highland Park to name a few) came together in 2008 to host drives in order to find a match.

The outpouring of community support from so many strangers is something we will never forget, all on behalf of a sweet five year old little boy.

Still, no match was found. We went ahead and used the stem cells from an umbilical cord after he endured full body radiation and chemotherapy. However the transplant failed.

We were very fortunate that he was “well enough” for a second transplant. He was being kept alive by daily blood transfusions. We moved him to another hospital and used my cells, though it was considered the least matched type of transplant with very low odds of survival. Our family, along with hundreds of people who followed his story on carepages witnessed a miracle on Christmas Eve 2008 as we learned his transplant took. I do not have words that can descibe my feelings.

Matthew is now 1 year post transplant and doing pretty well, all things considered. He has a long road and there will be things, but for now we are so happy he is with us. He has started a mission, along with his Grandmother called Matthew’s Mission.

It is not for profit and they collect new toys from friends and family to be donated to other kids undergoing bone marrow transplants in the the two hospitals he was treated at, Children’s Memorial and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

The motto is Matthew’s Mission…putting a smile on a sick child’s face with a simple toy. Matthew brings bags of toys every month that he goes to clinic at the hospital. It puts a big smile on his face to know that he is brightening someone else’s day, just like someone did for him. He also knows it is not just the toy that means something to these kids, but the fact that someone cared.

He is without a doubt one of the most amazing kids I know. He has been through over 100 days in a hospital room, 2 transplants, 2 rounds of radiation and chemo and is so positive and giving. He never wanted pity, just the ability to help someone else, which he is doing in a small way.

Jennifer DeVine

Editor’s note: Matthew’s Mission is accepting new toy donations April 10 – 17. You can drop them off at 1517 Fielding Dr. (in the Glen), Glenview.

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