Those close to 15-year-old Taylin McGill will tell you that the laughter and joyful spirit she exudes is a remarkable and surprising contrast to the complex and numerous medical interventions that she has had to endure. Her strength and resilience far outnumber her years.
Just 10 days after birth, Taylin was diagnosed with salmonella bacterial meningitis—a very rare and serious infection in the brain. This was followed by a diagnosis of ventriculitis, a swelling and inflammation throughout her brain, which resulted in hydrocephalus, an excessive accumulation of cerebral spinal fluid in the brain.
These early infections caused scars within her brain’s ventricles—a scarring that restricted the normal flow of cerebral spinal fluid in Taylin’s brain–and caused a life-threatening situation requiring shunt surgery to relieve the pressure. Taylin’s early childhood was then marked by very long, severe seizures, and multiple surgeries.
In perhaps the most trying period for the McGill family, an emergency medical situation left their fragile three-year-old 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 suffered permanent short-term memory loss and worked hard with specialists to re-learn how to walk, talk and eat again. Taylin faced years of obstacles and by age seven, she had endured her fourteenth brain surgery.
Taylin’s dad, Sean, recalls her determination after she recovered from one of her surgeries at BC Children’s Hospital. Sean whispered, “Daddy wishes I could take this all away from you Taylin.” Taylin replied very sternly. “No Daddy, you don’t want this. This is mine, I never want you to have all of these brain surgeries. I can do it.”
Taylin’s parents have estimated that there are hundreds of people at BC Children’s Hospital–from pediatric specialists to housekeeping–that have been part of her journey in providing care to manage and overcome her health challenges.
On November 11, 2014 Taylin, her proud and protective big sister Kheya, parents Erin and Sean, and her grandparents celebrated two years of Taylin being without a seizure over two minutes. This was a major milestone for the entire family.
Despite her significant struggles, Taylin’s positive, energetic attitude doesn’t waver. 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”, says Taylin’s mom, Erin. “We treat her like anyone else in the family and have to remind ourselves just how far she’s come.”
In October 2016, Taylin was announced as the Children’s Miracle Network Champion Child ambassador for BC Children’s Hospital as part of the Champions Across Canada program presented by Walmart. As BC’s representative in the Champions program, Taylin will share her inspiring story of dealing with salmonella bacterial meningitis at just 10 days old and living through years of treatment and rehabilitation. She will serve as an ambassador for BC Children’s Hospital, representing the more than 85,000 children treated at the hospital each year.
As part of this role, Taylin travelled with her family in March 2017 to Ottawa to meet with 11 other Canadian Champions, and then to Orlando, Florida to join the 50 American Champions. Champions help raise awareness of the importance of children’s hospitals and the work done by caregivers and researchers at children’s hospitals across North America.
To donate directly to Taylin's fundraising efforts for Miracle Weekend, visit her fundraising page.
To learn more about Taylin’s journey, watch her story below.