ALMOST 900 babies are born deaf in the UK each year.
And Blade Burgess, from Arbourthorne, was one of them.
Born four months too early, Blade had a range of health problems which meant the baby was almost one by the time he left hospital.
He had a feeding tube, weak lungs, internal bleeding, a tracheotomy and problems with his stomach, yet, according to doctors, he was able to hear when he was first born.
But that soon changed. As a result of all the complications arising from his premature birth, Blade spent six weeks in intensive care.
Doctors explained that the Burgess’s baby may not survive and gave the parents the option of turning the machine off but instead, Rosemarie and Darren Burgess - who already had three children - had an emergency christening.
“We knew he’d pull through so we called him Blade, because he only had a couple of hours to live and Sheffield United always come through in the end. And he did. He’s a tough little cookie,” says Darren, 42.
The little trooper pulled through intensive care but he became severely deaf.
Blade, now four, can talk and breath without his tracheotomy but he can’t hear very well, as mother Rosemarie, 35, explains.
“His hearing started deteriorating and now he can’t talk or hear very well but he understands us and we understand him. We know when he wants a drink because he puts his hand up to his mouth. He goes to the deaf unit and we really want to start having lessons but we’re struggling to get on a course.”
Blade’s hearing aid will be crucial to his development, as Samantha Lear, lead clinical scientist at the Children’s Hearing Service explains.
“It’s really important that deafness is detected early in children and hearing aids are fitted as soon as possible because hearing is key to language development and a child’s acquisition of general knowledge. Without hearing they’re not picking up on peripheral knowledge and can fall behind in their education.”
Such is the importance of children having hearing aids fitted is that the Children’s Hospital offer all manner of colours and designs for children, including Ben Ten and Dora the Explorer.
But there was only one pattern for Blade - the Blades’ famous red and white stripes.
And, rather fittingly, while he was being fitted for the hearing aid, he and his family were treated to VIP tickets which can be used for a Sheffield United home fixture next month. Darren - a lifelong United fan - was thrilled both with his son’s hearing aid and the competition prize.
But the Burgesses deserve it.
Not only has the family coped with Blade’s life-threatening health complications, they also had to deal with the ill health of his twin sister, Freya, who was born with a perforated bowel. Freya made it out of the hospital after five months while Blade remained on the ward.
Their eldest child has ADHD and their other son, aged 12, is in a school for children with behavioural difficulties.
Darren was made redundant recently and Rosemarie is a full-time mum. The pair certainly have their hands full.
“It is hectic but the Children’s Hospital have been brilliant. I think we’ve been under just about every single doctor in there now because he’s had so many problems but the staff are all lovely and they all know our names.”
The question is, can Blade contain his excitement until October 1, when he makes his VIP trip to the Blades’ game?
“I don’t know,” say Rosemarie. “I think he’s more interested in the mascot than the match.”
But while Blade’s health is constantly on the mend, and the Burgess remain positive, one thing is cetain - he can’t ever be a Wednesday fan with that name.