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Blaze's 'Beads of Courage'
ESCAMBIA COUNTY -- His mom's name is Katherine.
His dad is Chris Johnson, our Channel 3 News Photographer affectionately known as "Squeak".
This is the story of a baby named Blaze and Blaze's Beads of Courage.
Blaze was our son. He came six weeks early.
After he was five days old, they found out he had a heart condition called TAPVR; which is Total Anonymous Pulmunary Veinous Return.
Blaze was sent from Sacred Heart Children's Hospital to the Children's Hospital in Atlanta where he underwent countless procedures, including 3 Open Heart Surgeries.
Katherine Johnson, Blaze's Mom; His first one was at seven days old. The next one was at four weeks old. And the third one was at eight weeks, three days old.
When the doctors there had done all they could do, Katherine and Chris Johnson brought Blaze back to Sacred Heart. Dr. Robert Patterson noticed that mom and dad were wearing strings of beads around their necks. Chris explained the Atlanta hospital took part in the Beads of Courage project.
Chris Johnson, Blaze's Dad; You mean to tell me that your son went, and I said, Yeah, everything that he went through is on these beads.
Dr. Robert Patterson, Pediatric Emergency Medicine; They had this fantastic program where they actually gave little beads for every act of heroism, small or large, that these kids went through.
Dr. Patterson knew that they had to bring the Beads of Courage to Sacred Heart Children's Hospital. He went to the people who could make that happen.
Dr. Patterson; When a child undergoes a blood draw, for example, and has to have a needle stuck in their arm.
Or as big as a heart surgery or being on dialysis or some of the really scary stuff we sometimes do.
The child starts their strands with beads that spell out their name. Then, each color or symbol signifies a particular medical procedure or milestone. It provides great therapy for the children and encouragement to fight through one more blood draw, one more chemo session, one more surgery. They're a conversation piece of shared experiences with other patients. For parents, the beads have many meanings.
Katherine; Blaze passed away at three months, 11 days.
Blaze's Beads of Courage hold memories ...
Katherine; Wow. He was so strong and so brave, and to be such a tiny little baby. And it was just amazing and to put it in visual so you can see. Wow, my baby went through this. He was so strong.
Chris; It was just a visual representation of what he went through.
Blazes Beads hold hope for others ...
Katherine; It's a legacy. It's something, since Blaze did not make it, he made a difference. Look at all of those kids in there enjoying all of these beads. We're gonna know because of him, he brought these to those families and to those kids.
Angels in our Midst is brought to you by Sacred Heart Children's Hospital.