PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — We’re gearing up for the 69th annual KDKA-TV Free Care Fund Telethon on Thursday, December 8th. The Children’s Hospital of UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Free Care Fund ensures that no child is ever denied medical care.
This year’s junior host is Taylor Roles. A miraculous recovery from a very rare condition is thanks to the doctors, nurses and therapists at UPMC Children’s Hospital.
In the summer of 2020, Taylor Roles, of Aspinwall, was a happy, healthy, typical 11-year-old girl, busy with cheerleading practice.
“It was really fun being a cheerleader,” Taylor said.
Until one morning, he woke up with a low-grade fever. The next day, he felt better but decided to stay home to rest.
“When her dad got home that evening, she couldn’t wake up,” said Kim Roles, Taylor’s mother.
Taylor had no answer. He was taken to UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. When they arrived at the emergency room, Taylor had a grand mal session.
“The scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Taylor’s mother.
Taylor was admitted to the ICU and after an EEG, doctors realized that while his body was still physically intact, his brain was.
“At that point they induced a coma to try to rest his brain and stop the seizure,” Kim said.
For two months, Taylor was in a medically induced coma.
All of this was made even more difficult because the doctors still couldn’t figure out what was wrong.
“They did all the tests multiple times, everything was negative,” Kim said.
After eight weeks, doctors decided it was time to try to bring Taylor out of the coma, but she wouldn’t wake up.
“Every day was worse than the next because he didn’t wake up,” Kim said.
Then came the discussion about end-of-life care that no one wants to have, let alone their own child.
“They didn’t think he was going to wake up,” Kim said.
But Taylor’s parents and her neurologist weren’t ready to give up just yet. So, in a last ditch effort, the doctors performed a procedure called Deep Brain Stimulation.
Soon after, miracle! Taylor finally woke up from her coma.
Slowly but surely, with another four months of intensive rehab, Taylor began to recover – thanks in large part, her mother tells therapists.
“You hear it when you’re in the ICU. They tell you, ‘Oh, when you get to rehab, you know, it’s a miracle place.’ It really is,” Kim said. “When Taylor got there, she couldn’t sit up, she couldn’t eat, she couldn’t hold her head up.”
Four months later, his family said Taylor was able to walk and eat. After a total of seven months in the hospital, Taylor finally went home.
But the Roles family learned quickly, the journey was just beginning.
“We didn’t know what tomorrow looked like and how he was going to heal, and we thought every day that this could be the best,” Kim said. “A year and a half later, she’s rock climbing and doing musicals, and I mean, she’s loving every day.”
Taylor and her family know none of this would be possible without UPMC Children’s Hospital.
“They really care, and to have that kind of facility in our backyard, we couldn’t be more blessed,” Kim said.
Taylor is now 13 years old and looking forward to her future. But, like most 13-year-olds, he still hasn’t decided exactly what he wants to do when he grows up.
“A vet, an artist or a teacher,” Taylor said
However, his family is grateful that he has something to plan for the future.
“She means everything. She’s my best friend,” said Sara Yarnall, Taylor’s sister.
“I don’t think he wanted to wake up,” Kim said. “The brain damage was severe and he fights every day.”
But Taylor is still here to fight and that’s the most important thing.
By the way, doctors eventually determined that Taylor had something called “FIRES,” which is Febrile Infection-Related Epilepsy Syndrome. It is a very rare condition and affects approximately one in a million children.
Taylor is alive today thanks to the care she received at UPMC Children’s Hospital.
You can help make sure kids like her get the care they need by donating to the Free Care Fund on the 69th Telethon Thursday, December 8th from 4-8pm, right here on KDKA-TV.
John Shumway joined KDKA in October 1988 as a General Assignment Reporter. During her years at KDKA, she has anchored the morning and weekend newscasts and is currently the station’s General Assignments reporter at 4:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. the news
The two stations share studios in the Gateway Center in downtown Pittsburgh, and KDKA-TV’s transmitter is located in the city’s Perry North neighborhood.
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