Gunnar Thomas Oxendahl, age 5 months and 10 days, passed away on Monday, June 17, 2019, at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, MN.
Taylor and Rebecca Oxendahl found out early in their pregnancy that one of their twin boys, Gunnar, had a rare congenital heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS). This meant that the left side of his heart did not develop properly. This condition typically requires a series of three complex procedures, followed by a heart transplant at some point in a patient’s life.
On January 7th, 2019, the Oxendahls welcomed their twin boys, Gunnar and Carter into the world. At only four days old, Gunnar had his first open heart surgery.
The surgery was successful, but it was apparent that Gunnar was going to have a challenging road ahead of him. Gunnar, a Scandinavian name meaning “Warrior,” fought valiantly every day of his life, earning him quite a reputation with the medical team at Mayo Clinic. Through many ups and downs, Gunnar brought so much love and joy to his family, as well as the thousands of people who were following his story across the country. His sisters were in awe of him, frequently commenting on how cute he was and how much they loved him.
His twin brother loved sitting with Gunnar in his hospital room posing for pictures every month, commemorating their “month birthdays” together. Gunnar will be deeply missed, but during his short time on earth, he affected the lives of many in a very positive way.
Gunnar is survived by his parents, Taylor and Rebecca; sisters, Grace and Clara; twin brother, Carter; paternal grandparents, Terry and Karen Oxendahl; maternal grandparents, Wes and Patty Stillwell; paternal great grandmother, Bernice Davidson; maternal great grandmother, Dorothy Johnson; paternal aunts and uncles, Kristin, Tim, and Travis (Whitney) Oxendahl; maternal aunts and uncles, Danny (Ann), and Ricky (Sara) Stillwell; and cousins MaeBelle, Charlie, and Si Oxendahl.
Gunnar was preceded in death by his paternal uncle Thomas Oxendahl; paternal great grandparents Torvall and Serine Oxendahl, and Allen Davidson; and maternal great grandparents Les and Kay Stillwell, and Wayne Johnson.
A memorial service to celebrate Gunnar’s life will be held on Saturday, June 29, at 2:00 p.m., at Lutheran Brethren Fellowship Church (213 26th Street East) in Williston, ND. Memorial gifts will be distributed by the family to the Child Life organization at Saint Mary’s Hospital, as well as Cy’s Place in Rochester, MN.