When you ask Blake to describe himself, the first thing this 14-year-old will tell you is that he plays defense for his soccer team, the Red Hot Tornadoes. It doesn't occur to him to tell you that he's also a heart transplant recipient.
That could be because Blake was just 16 days old when he received the gift of life. Even before he was born, the doctors had informed his parents, Robin and Frank, that he'd need a new heart almost immediately. They had detected a heart defect in vitro that was 100% fatal. In fact, four days after his birth, the infant and his mother were flown to California to wait for a heart transplant.
Soon Frank joined them, and for 12 more days, both parents waited and prayed, watching their son get progressively more ill. But on day 16, the call came: they had found a heart for Blake. The donor was 15 months old and 15 pounds, and an excellent match.
Today, Blake is a normal, active teenager and a high school freshman who loves sports, loves his team, and whose favorite subject in school is algebra. His father Frank, a professional football player, died when Blake was 9. But Blake definitely has his father's love of sports and athleticism. He plays soccer, basketball, and runs track—all to keep his stamina up and his heart working.
Seeing Blake so healthy today, you'd never know he once had heart problems—except perhaps for the scar on his chest. If his teammates ask about it, he tells them he's a heart recipient. Their response? “That's cool.” He says, “I know I have someone else's heart inside of me. Someone was generous enough to give me a second chance to live.”
When she's attending one of Blake's soccer games, Robin says she sometimes is overwhelmed, watching him play. “I look at him and think 'he might not have been here.'
“To know that he got that gift and that he's able to be a normal kid is just amazing; it takes my breath away. And I enjoy every moment with that kid. Every moment. We're just incredibly blessed.”