Like most mothers whose children have medical obstacles, Helen Evangelista vowed to do everything possible to save her son.
That included learning everything she could about her son Matthew’s disease, mucopolysaccharidosis type VII (also known as Sly syndrome), and insisting on new treatments to cure him.
Helen defied mainstream medicine and refused to give up when he was told there was no hope.
Sly syndrome is a genetic condition that affects only 100 people in the United States and causes skeletal abnormalities, mental disabilities, and reduced function of the heart, lungs, liver, and spleen.
Many who suffer from Sly syndrome sadly die at birth or soon thereafter, but there are some cases in which patients have lived to adulthood – and Matthew will certainly be one of them.
Since he was two, Matthew has lived at St. Mary’s Hospital for Children in Bayside, Queens. He has been confined to a wheelchair and hooked up to machines.
Matthew’s condition hit rock bottom five years ago when he couldn’t breathe without a respirator and the carbon dioxide levels in his system rose to deadly levels.
“I thought I lost him already,” Helen said.
So Helen, a registrar at a Brooklyn hospital, dug her heels in deeper and was even more determined to save her son, who doctors have affectionately nicknamed “The Mayor” for his beautiful spirit and bright smile.
Thanks to Helen, people are able to see his smile even more.
Head to the next page to see how Helen did it!