St. Thomas, Ont. family awaits arrival of three-year-old son after his open heart surgery

A St. Thomas family physician is waiting for the return of her three-year-old son Jason, who spent the last two months in hospital for open-heart surgery.

Word of Jason’s journey spread across Canada, compelling strangers to offer their support to the family during this difficult time.

"It’s hard, it’s really hard as a mom to be away from your child,” says Dr. Amy Blake.

Blake is a family physician and mother of twins, Emma and Jason.


Three year old twins, Emma and Jason Blake from St. Thomas, Ont.

Blake and her husband Andrew, have been travelling back and forth for months to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, Ont., where their son Jason undergoing his third surgery.

Jason was born with half a functional heart and has experienced complications on his medical journey.

"Knowing enough to see him in respiratory distress and not being able to do something about it, that is the worst part, just knowing that things aren’t going well and not being able to help. And seeing your loved one helpless, that's difficult to go through.”

Doctors have estimated his life expectancy to be 20 years, making visits valuable time spent for the Blake family.

But travel costs and month-long hotels stays due to COVID-19 protocols has led to financial costs adding up.

“I have had to get rid of my shifts and my husband being off work on EI (employment insurance) the travel back and forth, hotels stays, even his special feeding.”

Blake is a part of a closed Facebook group for physicians across the country.

In that group, Blake was comfortable enough to share her story.

Another family physician from Winnipeg, who had never met Amy, said she was compelled to help.

‘I am also a mom of twins, and during the reading of her post, I learned that her twins are almost the same age as mine. I think Jason and Emma are born one day after my kids are,” said family physician Dr. Penny Gujral.

"Just reading that story and knowing that could happen to any of us, it really touched my heart…I had to help.”

Gujral started a GoFundMe page to support the family's additional costs attributed to Jason’s medical bills, travel costs and child care for Emma.

"I am really impressed by her compassion,” said Blake.

“Obviously it is very difficult, but (Jason's) quality of life has been decent. Now that he is doing better in hospital, he sort of functions like a quasi-normal three-year-old, he laughs. We’re looking forward to having the next 20 or so years of his life, or whatever he has left to appreciate every moment of it.”

The good news is that Jason has recently been moved to a London-area hospital to finish his recovery, and the family hopes to have him home as soon as possible.

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