Coal Valley boy needs life-saving surgery

Family says insurance will now cover the procedure
A Coal Valley, Illinois boy needs reconstructive surgery on his leg, to prevent deadly infections.
Published: Dec. 15, 2022 at 4:35 AM CST|Updated: Dec. 18, 2022 at 4:07 PM CST
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COAL VALLEY, Ill. (KWQC) - If you get a chance to meet Liam Doxsee, you would think he’s an average 8-year-old.

He loves to play, read, and he especially loves his pug, Lulu.

“If I’m sick, she’ll lay right on top of me and then mom will be like, ‘Lulu what are you doing?’ And I’m just laying there with Lulu. She knows everything.”

Lulu provides a lot of comfort for Liam, which he’s needed a lot of. At 5-days-old, Liam was diagnosed with Severe Combined Immune Deficiency or SCID. It means his immune system does not function as it should. At 2-months-old, he received a bone marrow transplant to save his life.

Ever since, Liam’s mom, Mary Matheson, said Liam has been on dozens of antibiotics and currently receives infusions so his immune system can work at a decent level.

Five years ago, Liam developed Lymphedema in his right leg.

“With Liam’s immune deficiency, when the cells get clogged up in his leg and he gets cellulitis, it turns into strep or staph in his bloodstream, and it runs to his heart.” his mother explained. “[It] can essentially kill him.”

Just in the past year, Liam has been in the pediatric intensive care unit three times for infections.

While there is no cure for the lymphedema, Liam’s medical team said reconstructive surgery on his leg and groin will open up the vein and allow the cells to move more freely from the lymph node.

Matheson said the only doctor in the United States who can perform that surgery on a pediatric patient with a rare immune deficiency is a plastic surgeon. However, because the doctor is a plastic surgeon, insurance had refused to help cover the procedure because they said it’s considered cosmetic, she said.

“It’s not his fault. It’s not cosmetic. It’s not a nose job, it’s not a butt lift, it’s a pediatric time-sensitive emergency surgery that he really needs and without it, he could potentially die.”

The cost of the entire surgery is $104,000. Before it could even be scheduled, Matheson was required to pay $53,000, upfront.

“I don’t know that many people that have that much money for a surgery for their child who’s been chronically ill all of their life. It’s a lot,” she said.

With the help of her friend, Sarah Apodaca, Matheson has been planning a benefit to raise money for the surgery Liam needs.

“When she told me that she was having these issues with insurance and trying to raise $53,000 just to get on the books, just to get the surgery scheduled, I said, let’s plan a benefit, we got this,” Apodaca said.

That all changed on Friday, after our story aired, when Matheson says she received a call from the doctor’s office informing her the doctor has been changed to in-network and insurance will now cover the procedure. Matheson says with the change in insurance, donations will now go toward pre-surgery and post-surgery expenses. She went on to say she is incredibly grateful to all the people who have donated to help Liam.

The #LoveforLiam benefit is from 4 to 7 p.m. Jan. 15 at The Rock in Coal Valley.

A spaghetti dinner will be served, plus a silent auction, 50/50 raffle, cash bar, kids area, bake sale, and much more.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids ahead of the event. At the door, tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for kids.

If you want to buy tickets ahead of time, you can send the money through Venmo to Matheson using the username, Mvalley04, or to Apodaca using the username, Sarah-Apodaca-11. You can also buy tickets through PayPal to If you want to learn more about the event, click here.

If you would like to help Liam pay for his surgery, you can donate to his GoFundMe page by clicking here.

You can also buy t-shirts to support Liam, by clicking here.

You can also donate to Liam at the Central Bank of Illinois in Geneseo. Just write a check or money order to Mary Matheson.