Time can plays tricks on the mind.
Vacations happen too quickly. A traffic jam seems to last for hours. But, when we need it most, time can prove to be elusive.
Ryan and Amanda Blanchfield needed all the time they could get in the days following the birth of their first child, Cash.
Doctors told them their son had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a condition which causes the heart to thicken. Within a few weeks of his birth they found themselves at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
“You just take everything for granted that everything is going to be fine and everybody has healthy kids and you’re not going to be the one and then you are,” Ryan said.
Doctors told the Blanchfields their son had the worst case of HCM they had seen and he needed a heart transplant to survive. All they could do was hope doctors could buy them enough time as they waited.
Ryan is a firefighter with South Metro Fire and Rescue. He’s been with his team for eleven years.
Aaron Zimmerman was in the academy class with Ryan, where they formed a tight friendship. He still remembers hearing the news from Ryan.
So Zimmerman sent out an email asking firefighters to take Ryan’s shifts, so he could be with his son, get paid and not lose his health benefits. Within minutes the shifts were filled, one month at a time.
All told, firefighters at South Metro would work seven months for Ryan.
As for Cash, he spent 51 days on the waiting list.
Ryan and Amanda will always think of the parents who suffered unbearable loss and gave their son another chance at life.
“Our family’s fates are crossed forever now. He’s as much their boy as he is ours,” explained Ryan.
This week, Cash marked two years since his “heart” birthday. So far, he is thriving and showing no signs of rejection.
These past two years have given the Blanchfields plenty of time to reflect on the fragility of life, the amazing skills of the doctors and nurses at Children’s Hospital Colorado and the value of good friends and co-workers.
Ryan says he can never thank his fellow firefighters enough.
“When your child has this limited time left on this planet, there’s nothing more valuable than time," he said. "I tell this story to anybody who will listen, what these guys have done for me and my family.”
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