NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A North Haven family turned their pain into purpose as they lost their son, Matthew “Matty” Jacques after a heart transplant back in 2013.
“The holidays are hard. You’re always missing him. It doesn’t stop,” said Matty’s mother, Melissa. “You learn to live with it and we’ve come up with traditions and things that we do to remember him and this is one of them.”
That’s why they donated nearly 500 plush owls to Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital today. Their son, 6-year-old Matty knew the Yale New Haven Children’s halls well. He spent many nights there for a heart defect.
News 8 interviewed Matty in September of 2013 when his peers collected pennies at his school to help with medical bills. When it came to his heart, he told us he simply needed. “A new one.”
He died shortly after his transplant.
“He was an amazing little boy who was always full of spirit and fun and just an amazing kid,” said Erica Smith who works for Child Life Services at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital.
Smith knew Matty and knows the impact a toy can bring to a sick child. She sees it firsthand.
“You bring in something like this and it just lights up their day and they sit up and it just brings some happiness and smile to their life,” said Smith.
Jacques said, “It kind of takes that pain away. Gives them a good distraction. Makes it a lot more comfortable and easier for the kids to handle.”
So, the Jacques started the Matthew Jacques Mission. It’s their 4th year raising money for stuffed animals at the hospital and donations doubled from last year. They also raise money to help families with critically-ill children. They hope to create happy memories for those families to help ease the burden.
Melissa said, “It’s a way to go through our grieving process and help others. So, it helps us out.”
To learn more about the Matthew Jacques mission, click here.