Teen with rare condition rescues children with facial deformities from human trafficking
A Chattanooga teen has defied the odds.
Doctors said he would be born dead or have major developmental issues and recommended his mother get an abortion.
She chose life, and now her son is helping rescue children from poverty and human trafficking across the globe.
In this week's Pay It Forward, Jessica Harthorn surprises the young man who co-founded Love Without Reason.
Philip Mathews is an incredible young man diagnosed with Goldenhar Syndrome.
Since birth, he's had 23 intense surgeries. At one point, he almost died on the operating table.
Today, Philip is 18 and a senior at McCallie. After graduation, he'll continue traveling the world helpings kids just like him in third world countries.
Philip Mathews' story began before he was even born.
His mother Susan says an abnormal ultrasound revealed her first son had multiple birth defects, including facial deformaties, holes in the heart and no stomach.
"There's two words I remember very clearly that day. He says there is no hope your baby is going to live," said Susan Mathews.
But Susan choose life and began to pray.
"I know that in the scripture it says before that baby was born, conceived, that God had a plan," said Susan.
As Philip grew up his body was healed in many ways.
The amazing experience inspired his parents to start a non-profit called, Love Without Reason.
The organization made up of surgeons and volunteers, travels the world providing free Craniofacial Surgeries.
The life-altering results help children escape poverty, organ harvesting and human trafficking.
Philip is the organization's spokesperson. He just got back from Kenya for its 500th surgery.
Now a friend of the family, Tim Pappu, wants to thank him for helping children without a future.
"Before the surgery, they were like outcasts," said Tim.
We followed Tim inside Chattanooga Christian Assembly where Philip was in the middle of bible study.
"My prayer is, may God continue to use you to make changes for hundreds of children in the days to come, so on behalf of the McMahan Law Firm and Newschannel 9, I'd like to Pay It Forward 100, 200, 300, 400, $500," surprised Tim.
"Thank you!" hugged Philip.
Philip, surrounded by his friends, walked over to his mother.
"Thank you for choosing me and thank you for giving me life when the doctor said I didn't have one," said Philip.
Philip says after graduation he has big plans. He'll pursue a communications degree so he can continue to be the voice for children who have none.
"If it weren't for Jesus, I guarantee you I wouldn't be standing here today," said Philip.
There will be a 5K fundraiser for Love Without Reason at the Tennessee Riverpark off Amnicola Highway.
It's on September 8th at 8 a.m. at Pavilion #3.
Do you know someone who deserves $500 for helping others? Nominate them here!