When 15-year-old Ashli Taylor was a newborn, she had congenital cirrhosis of the liver and her family was told that she would only have a few months to live. According to Today, the Temple, Texas infant was jaundiced, dropping weight fast and had to be fed through a nasal tube. She needed a liver transplant, and the door to saving her life was closing. A liver for a transplant was made available on September 11, 2001, but she couldn’t get it because planes weren’t flying after the terrorist attacks in New York, Virgina and Pennsylvania. The liver couldn’t be delivered. As her conditioned worsened, Taylor’s mother, Crystal Pope-Taylor, was told that her daughter had an infection. She had to make the decision to give her child part of her own liver and didn’t hesitate.
As Pope-Taylor told Today, “It was just the worst day. I remember sitting in this hospital with nothing to look at, sad at the state of the world, and you have your child who’s not going to make it. That let me know that [another liver donor] wasn’t the plan. I was supposed to donate it.”
And it was a one Dr. Robert Goldstein who did the operation to remove the left side of Pope-Taylor’s liver, which was then to be implanted into Ashli. The procedure was done at Baylor University Medical Center.
“We had to move fairly quickly,” Dr. Goldstein told Today. “Ashli’s mom came over and said, ‘I’m not going to let my kid die.’ It worked out incredible. We drove the thing across town, and that was history. It’s amazing.”
And though Ashli does have to continue taking medication to ensure that her liver doesn’t reject the transplant, she’s a healthy, happy, studious Freshman in high school. And she’s thankful to have made it this far.
“Kids these days, not all of them are grateful for what they have,” Ashli told the ABC affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth.
In an effort to show her gratitude, Ashli decided to share her story in a creative writing class in September. It was the first time many of her classmates had heard about her transplant and the first time the teen wrote about it. She did so in the form of a letter, thanking everyone, which she sent to Dr. Goldstein (and Dr. Jay Roden of Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, who worked on her transplant as well). Dr. Goldstein has done more than 4,000 procedures during his career and had never been given a thank you like this. The note touched him so much that he decided to drive two hours down from Dallas to Temple to meet the student while she was in her creative writing class this week.
“She moved me to the point where I wanted to give back,” Goldstein said. I wanted her to realize her words had a real lasting impression.”
The meeting was an emotional one, as Dr. Goldstein entered her class with flowers, and called out Ashli’s name to find the infant he once helped while gravely ill, who is now a young woman. Once she realized it was the doctor she reached out to who had walked into her classroom, Ashli broke down in tears.
“Being able to make it, I’m just really grateful for those who helped me,” Ashli said. “They don’t get a lot of thank yous, and they need to know that people appreciate their work.”
Check out their emotional reunion below!
And big ups to everyone involved in saving this young child’s life years ago, including Ashli’s mother, who chose to make such a sacrifice for her baby girl. A whole lot of love in this story.