Tony Matalonis, Donor Family
A Remarkable Person Whose Life Lives On
Posted May 27, 2016
My husband Tony Matalonis and I had been married for 27 years. We have two children Erika (26) and Logan (23) and planned to live happily ever after. That was cut short on November 13, 2014. I was at home waiting for my husband to come home from a hockey game. My son called me about 10:30 and said the hospital called and we needed to come, that he was in an accident. I remember praying all the way there. After Logan, Erika, David (Erika’s husband) and I got to the hospital, they showed us to a little room. Shortly after, a doctor, nurse and chaplain came in and told us Tony had died. He was gone when they brought him into the hospital. Later we found out he had a heart attack. I remember feeling like it was a terrible, bad dream when they had us view his body. I remember I kept saying “NO, NO, NO!” I remember our children crying and I was wondering how we would ever survive without him.
Tony had signed as an organ donor on his driver’s license. Someone from Mid-America Transplant called me that night and asked a whole LOT of questions about him. I remember thinking at the time, I can’t do this, I can’t answer all these questions. But then I thought if it could save someone else’s life, he would want that, I would want that, and our children would want that. So, I answered the questions.
Tony was a remarkable person. He had a big smile and huge heart.
He loved to travel, loved to do St. Louis things, and loved his children and I with all his heart. Tony was always ready to do something. He was the life of a party, and a fun person to be around. He was a family man, and we were both lucky to have been able to spend lots of time with both sides of our families. He was a leader, and always thought his way was the best way. LOL! A few months before he died, he complained of pain in his chest, he thought it was indigestion. I tried to get him to go to the hospital, but he wouldn’t go. He said he’d make an appointment to see a doctor soon. Our daughter and son-in-law were married September 27, 2014, Tony died 6 weeks later. That doctor appointment never happened. There were over 400 people at his wake. People stood in long lines, to tell us what a great guy he was and how much he would be missed. We also heard lots and lots of stories about him. He was loved!!
The people at Mid-America Transplant have been awesome. They’ve sent me notes, called me, sent me little gifts, and put me in touch with several grief support groups. In May 2016, I received a letter from Mid-America saying Tony’s gift of tissue has been able to provide 57 tissue grafts for transplant. His saphenous vein was transplanted in a 71-year-old man in New Jersey. His skin tissue was used to aid the healing process for severe burn victims. Through corneal transplantation, he restored the gift of sight to two women, one was 24 and the other 50. I am so glad my husband was able to be a donor and help save lives of so many people. He won’t be able to come back to us, but his life lives on in the lives he helped.