A SEVERELY deaf four-year-old boy who was given just weeks to live at birth will be a special guest with Sheffield United on Saturday.
Named Blade Burgess, he will be with his whole United-loving family at the match at Bramall Lane against Charlton after the club was told that the youngster even had the Blades logo printed in his hearing aid ear mould.
He chose the emblem while being treated at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
Dad Darren, aged 42, said: “We were all absolutely thrilled to hear we were invited to the game, it was a complete shock.”
Blade and his twin sister Freya, of Arbourthorne, were born prematurely at 25 weeks and doctors gave them both just weeks to live.
Darren said: “Blade was born with an abnormal blood flow and Freya had a perforated bowel which caused her to have a stoma bag for seven months. It seemed like they would take it in turns to deteriorate.
“But they were fighters and Freya eventually came out of hospital after five months and made great progress – then Blade was transferred to Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
“It was a very hard time, it was all touch and go with him as he was prone to infections and had two fundoplication operations, which means doctors had to stretch his stomach, and then he was fitted with a tracheostomy to help him breathe.
“That came out in February and now he is fed through a peg in his stomach on continuous feeds throughout the night.”
Blade’s hearing began to deteriorate at three months when he caught an infection and doctors were unsure if he would make it through the night. The youngster battled through but his hearing had been affected.
Mum Rosemarie said: “We thought we were going to lose him and so for him to come through it all and only lose his hearing – we were just so relieved.”
She added: “We had never been around deaf children before so we were apprehensive but we knew we had to tackle it for Blade.”
Darren, wife Rosemarie and children India, aged four, Connor, 12, Kelsey, 13, began learning Baby Sign Language. “We thought it was going to be really hard but it was easier than we thought. The hardest part of adjusting to life with a deaf child was just getting the youngest children to recognise Blade’s condition.”
Blade has check-ups at Sheffield Children’s Hospital’s hearing services department, which customised his latest hearing aid.
Jac Fox, senior audiology assistant, said: “Blade is a lovely fun character who we have been helping care for since he was a baby.
“The company who make the ear moulds for us, Minerva Laboratories, give children the chance to customize their mould by featuring small pictures of cartoon characters or football badges inside.
“We help to care for over 500 children who use hearing aids and allowing long-term users to customise their mould enables children to identify with and be proud of their very own special hearing aid.”
United marketing manager Sarah Baker said: “We gave permission for our badge to be used by Minerva and decided to give a special treat to the next child who picked to feature United on their mould.”
Darren said: “Blade has only ever been to one match before but he loves it when I watch it on TV. He reacts in his own way by making noises or putting his hands in the air.
“Since being made redundant it’s been hard to go to games, so for us all to go as a family will be extra special.”