Saskatoon’s Blake Wheeler, 12, is taking on an important role to honour his late twin brother.
Blake and Noah were born 14 weeks premature via emergency C-section. The fraternal twins were rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) moments after their birth after heart murmurs were detected in both babies.
They were only together for two weeks before the heart surgery proved to be too much for Noah and he passed away.
Blake spent the next four months on ventilators, feeding tubes and IV lines. His parents weren’t able to hold him until he was 46 days old.
“My mom always tells me they could barely see me because of all the IV lines and feeding tubes. It was really hard, cause my mom and dad couldn’t do anything. All they could really do was sit and watch and wait,” Blake said.
Though the odds were stacked against him, Blake was finally healthy enough to go home after 110 days in NICU.
Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation named Blake on Thursday as the 2019 Saskatchewan ambassador for the Champions Presented by Walmart program, which honours remarkable children who have triumphed despite severe medical challenges.
As a the “champion child,” Blake will represent sick and injured Saskatchewan children at events across North America, including the opening of Saskatoon’s new Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in fall 2019.
“I like sharing my story because I can be a voice for other kids who don’t always have a voice,” he said.
As part of the program, Blake and his family will travel to Walt Disney World in Florida to meet with ambassadors from across North America.
Blake takes over from Payton Sernick, 10, a pediatric cancer patient who just returned home to Estevan after nearly a year of treatment in Alberta.
-With files from Global’s Rebekah Lesko