Staff file photo by Robin Rudd / From left, Philip, Susan, Sara, Santhosh and Caleb Mathews pose for a family portrait. Philip died on Tuesday after a brief illness.

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Chattanooga couple taking cleft palate non-profit effort to Zimbabwe

Philip Mathews, the young Chattanooga inspiration behind nonprofit Love Without Reason, died Tuesday after a brief illness. He was 19.

Philip was born in July 2000 to Susan and Santhosh Mathews. From the start, he faced challenges. He was born with a cleft lip and palate, had holes in his heart, was missing his corpus callosum — the bond of nerve fibers that join the brain's two hemispheres — and didn't have a right eye or right ear.

Over time, he had surgery to repair his palate and lip, and the holes in his heart closed. He also underwent speech, occupational and physical therapies. He later attended McCallie School.

Recognizing that not all children have access to the level of care provided by the team of craniofacial doctors that treated Philip, the Mathewses founded Love Without Reason in December 2007 to help with craniofacial surgeries in Santhosh Mathews' native India. The organization arranges free medical camps in rural villages, where many people believe children with facial deformities are cursed — and where facial surgery could change the course of a child's life.

For nearly 12 years, the organization has helped children in several countries.

In a 2018 interview with the Times Free Press, Philip was excited and hopeful about an upcoming trip to Zimbabwe to help children. He planned to hold a baby before her surgery.

"What will people in her village think when they see her?" he asked.

On Tuesday, Santhosh Mathews, remembered his son in a Facebook post.

"Philip is with my Heavenly Father," he said in a statement. "An amazing warrior who fought the good fight of faith! Susan and I are grateful for your earnest prayers."

Services for Philip will take place Friday at Redemption Point Church, 3831 Ooltewah Road in Ooltewah. Visitation will be from 4-6 p.m., and a service will follow from 6-8:30 p.m. There will be a "homegoing" service from 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. on Saturday at the church.

For more information on Love Without Reason, visit