‘Wonderful Wally’ out of surgery, has new “beautiful” heart

Local News

A Chillicothe boy with a rare disease underwent a successful heart transplant Thursday night.

Wally Bastian, affectionately called “Wonderful Wally,” has a new heart, according to a Facebook page charting the child’s journey.

The Bastian family waited 52 days in the hospital and 41 days on the heart transplant list. Coincidentally on Rare Disease Awareness Day, the child began surgery for a new heart around 2 p.m in Chicago. It was expected to last roughly 12 hours, according the child’s mother. Now, he’s in recovery.

“It’s beating and it looks beautiful they said,” his mother wrote.

Bastian is the son of a Chillicother police officer and thousands of central Illinoisians have rallied in support of the family. 

The Pizza Peel, a local eatery in Lacon, said that giving back to a local family in need is just doing the right thing, so they donated 15 percent of their proceeds to the family.

“Cheated on my diet just to have pizza for Wally,” laughed Vicki Waldschmidt who was dining at The Pizza Peel, Thursday.

“Everybody’s one big family around here, especially in that small town feel, you always have that love and support from everybody,” siad Amanda LeQuia, Director of Operations at The Pizza Peel. “So coming together when someone needs something is just tremendous, like a blessing.”

People in Central Illinois are cheering on Wally Bastian who has been in the hospital for 52 days and on the heart transplant list for 41. 

“The power of community,” said Travis Guthman, Owner of The Pizza Peel. “The power of hope and faith. It’s real. and It happens and it can come in very unexpected ways, and even when you don’t ask for it… people can step in and help and it’s pretty phenomenal.”

The Pizza Peel decided months ago they would hold a fundraiser day to help the family with financial costs. Little did they know… “We found out today also, that like we’re not only making pizza for him, but he did get the call for his new heart [Thursday],” said LeQuia. “So that makes today even better.”

Vicki Waldschmidt has been following Wally’s progress since his story starting gaining a following. 

“I marked on my calendar the different businesses because I think it’s really awesome that all these businesses are stepping up and helping out with the proceeds,” said Waldschmidt.

With a history of public service, after working at OSF for more than 40-years, Waldschmidt says, giving back to the community and especially a family in need isn’t a hard decision to make. 

“Love and kindness,” said Waldschmidt. “I mean, people really do come together. That with all the stuff going on in the world today, when you really get down to it, look in your own communities because that’s what really counts.”

The family is asking for prayers also for the donor’s family as well, as a life was lost to save another.

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