In June 2010, the world came crashing down around Jeremy and Nikki Taylor. Their 3-year-old daughter, Emma, was admitted to the Georgia Health Sciences Children’s Medical Center for what appeared to be dehydration.
“She had been on antibiotics for an ear infection, but she was not eating well, not drinking much and not feeling well,” said her mother, Nikki. “At the hospital, Emma’s muscles were spasming, her heart rate was increasing and her blood pressure began dropping. It was an out-of-the-blue shock for us.”
Emma entered a semi-comatose state, and the family spent over a month at the children’s hospital, much of it in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. From there, Emma spent time in rehabilitation in Atlanta.
After nearly two years of examinations and tests, Emma was finally diagnosed with mitochondrial disease. Mitochondria, the “power house” of cells, cannot efficiently turn sugar and oxygen into energy for children like Emma, so the cells do not work correctly.
The many types of mitochondrial disease can affect one or multiple parts of the body, but they seem to cause the most damage to the cells of the brain, heart, liver, skeletal muscles, kidneys and the endocrine and respiratory systems. In addition to seizures, Emma has muscle weakness that necessitates a walker. Unfortunately, the disorder has no cure, so she will receive lifelong care at the Children’s Medical Center.
“She sees multiple doctors at the CMC – a neurologist, a geneticist, a general pediatrician, and sometimes occupational and physical therapists,” Nikki said. “We are very grateful they are here. You don’t realize how important it is to have a children’s hospital at your back door until you need it. We talk to our physicians via email, Facebook, telephone and face-to-face. They always have time for us.”
Emma, now 6, enjoys spending time with family, shopping and hunting with her dad. “She is much stronger about this than I would be,” said Nikki. “She never sees herself as not being able to do something; she just does it her own way.”
You can hear more about Emma during the 2012 Cares for Kids Radiothon, a fundraiser for the Children’s Medical Center, the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. Radio stations 104.3 WBBQ and 96.3 Kiss FM will broadcast live from the lobby of the GHS Children’s Medical Center on Thursday, Dec. 6, and Friday, Dec. 7, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Saturday, Dec. 8, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dozens of stories like Emma’s will be shared during this weekend fundraiser for the area's only dedicated children's hospital.
New to the Cares for Kids Radiothon this year is the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital Race to 50K. The Taylors and three other patient families have volunteered to help raise $5,000 each in the weeks leading up to Radiothon using Facebook and other social media and communication tools. To view their fundraising pages, visit:
Since 2000, the Radiothon has been the largest single Children’s Miracle Network Hospital fundraiser for the Children’s Medical Center, raising more than $161,000 last year. The 154-bed Children's Medical Center is the second-largest children's hospital in the state, providing the highest level of pediatric critical care and neonatal intensive care, as well as a wide range of general and complex health care for children.
Pledges can be made any time through the online giving portal at www.caresforkidsradiothon.com and during the Radiothon by calling locally at 706-922-KIDS (5437) or toll-free at 1-866-412-KIDS (5437). Knology will provide phones and service for the phone bank. Donors can become “Miracle Makers” by pledging $15 a month for 12 months.
“We encourage you to join us to help raise money for the Children’s Medical Center to help treat and care for children like Emma and to give hope for families like us,” Nikki said.