The Force is Strong with Matthew Chase

Marianna McGaha
June 12, 2024
Matthew Chase as a child post heart surgery.
Matthew as child after heart surgery.

Matthew Chase, a 23-year-old heart patient at MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital, is quite the character. With a love for video games, Legos, and an unparalleled devotion to Star Wars, Matthew has proven that he indeed has "the force."

Matthew Chase with Mark Hamill. 
Matthew with Mark Hamill.

Matthew's saga began close to home when he was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare birth defect leaving half his heart underdeveloped. Despite being given a grim 20% chance of survival, Matthew, his indomitable spirit, and the stellar team at MUSC proved the odds wrong. Three open-heart surgeries later, Matthew surpassed his life expectancy.

In 2017, Matthew was diagnosed with heart failure, which is common for those with his condition. Predicted to need a transplant within a year, Matthew again defied the odds, lasting nearly six years before receiving his new heart in October 2023. Now, seven months post-transplant, he's doing well.

Despite his age, Matthew still visits the children's hospital so his transplant team can monitor his progress. It's also common for those with congenital heart disease (CHD) to continue receiving care at children's hospitals into adulthood.

Today, 95% of children born with CHD survive into adulthood, requiring lifelong care from experts like those at MUSC Children's Health Pediatric and Congenital Heart Center. We're the first in the Southeast to earn the Adult Congenital Heart Association's seal of approval and the only ACHD-Accredited Center in South Carolina. We provide top-tier care for adults with congenital heart disease.

As an adult in a children's hospital, Matthew finds the silver lining. "At Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital, you get the best care possible. It's comforting to have people who've known you for so long caring for you," he said. "I cannot tell you how many doctors and nurses have, literally, watched me grow up into who I am today."

Matthew, the Jedi heart warrior, is known for forging friendships with children and families throughout the hospital. His ability to lend an empathetic ear to patients and families in similar situations makes him an invaluable part of the hospital community. "I'm privileged to share my experiences, offer advice, and provide support," he said.

Matthew's journey is a testament to the power of resilience, the strength of the human spirit, and a reminder that the force is indeed strong with this one.