Taylin McGill has gone through a lot in her short life.
Ten days after she was born, Taylin was diagnosed with salmonella bacterial meningitis – a very rare and serious infection in the brain – which caused swelling throughout her brain and an accumulation of excessive cerebrospinal fluid in the brain.
Taylin’s early childhood was marked by very long, severe seizures caused by the scarring in her brain, and by the time she was seven years old she had already endured 14 brain surgeries.
And now, the energetic 15-year-old from Tsawwassen is using her experience to help others as the 2017 Champion Child for BC Children’s Hospital following an emotional ceremony on Oct. 19.
“They gave us back our little girl over and over and over and we want to make people aware that Children’s Hospital needs funding,” said Taylin’s mother, Erin McGill, fighting back tears. “The emotions as you can see are still raw. We cried uncontrollably, praying for our smiling, happy angel to come back to us.”
As B.C.’s representative in the Champions Across Canada program, Taylin and her family will embark on a tour to share their story of spirit and courage. In March, the family will travel to Ottawa to join 11 other Canadian champion children and their families before the group heads to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. to join the 50 American champion children and their families at the Children’s Miracle Network’s annual event, Celebration.
“I look forward to sharing my story, sharing what I’ve been through at Children’s Hospital and hearing the stories of other sick kids,” Taylin said.
It took a lot for her to get to where she is today.
When she was three, an emergency medical situation left Taylin in a coma-like state. She was temporarily mute, had an impairment in her left eye and was unable to use the left side of her body for several months. Taylin also suffered permanent short-term memory loss and had to work hard with specialists to re-learn how to walk, talk and eat again.
Despite her significant struggles, Taylin’s positive, energetic attitude didn’t waver.
Sean McGill recalled a time when, as his daughter recovered from one of her surgeries, he whispered to her, “Daddy wishes I could take this all away from you Taylin.”
“No Daddy, you don’t want this,” he remembered her saying sternly. “This is mine, I never want you to have all of these brain surgeries. I can do it.”
Today, Taylin sings in a choir and takes gymnastics. In warm weather she swims every day in her backyard pool, loves to snorkel with her family and plays softball with a Special Olympics team.
“She reminds us every day that life is precious and that we need to love deeply and feel gratitude, as it can be taken from us in the blink of an eye”, Erin said. “We treat her like anyone else in the family and have to remind ourselves just how far she’s come.”
Watch the video below for more about Taylin’s incredible journey, courtesy of the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation: