Belfast Telegraph

Phoebe Lyle: 'My hero' made a mistake, but he saved lives too ... including mine

By Phoebe Lyle

In April 2001, after being knocked down by a car in Spain - which left me paralysed from the neck down, ventilator dependent and in a wheelchair - I was flown home to Belfast.

For the next year, I was cared for at the Royal Belfast Victoria Hospital by Dr Robert Taylor and his team. In the wake of the Hyponatraemia Inquiry, I do not want to ignore the deaths of the children who died.

It is very sad and the pain the families must be feeling cannot be alleviated by anyone.

However, the care which I, and others, have received from Bob Taylor has been wonderful, as was shown by the many messages I received last Monday.

"Bob is a golden light for so many of us," said one local disability advocate.

"Bob - affectionately known by us as Saint Bob - saved my life, and then he gave me a quality of life no other doctor would.

"I owe Dr Bob my life!"

Like the person who gave this quote, I too, owe Bob my life.

He reactivated my lungs three times, hence saving my life, and then fought to get me home.

He, and his small team of doctors, nurses and technicians, had spent the decade prior to my accident setting up a system of home ventilation across the province.

This was done outside their contracted hours and with no payment.

It was their expertise and dedication that let me become the first person with my injury in Great Britain and Ireland to live at home.

In August of this year, I will have been home for 16 years.

"He set up the air ambulance and without this a lot of children would not be here," said another person in reply to a post I made on social media about the opening article of last Monday's Belfast Telegraph.

I will say again how the deaths of the children lost and the pain felt by their parents is awful, but it has to be understood how many children now with the same illnesses could survive.

While the 1990s is not many years ago, it is as far as medical science and technology is concerned.

In recent months, doctors and nurses working within Paediatric Intensive Care Units (PICU) have received very bad press, and not only in the case of tragic stories such as loss of life.

They work under very stressful conditions, and are not paid or in some cases, respected enough either.

Unfortunately, the stress and disrespect doctors are faced with could prevent parents from placing their trust in medical experts and from even seeking their help in the first place.

I was in the position to witness this dedication at first hand during my year in PICU and in the years following.

Another friend has said: "Bob is genuinely one of the most fantastic doctors ever put on this earth."

And considering how many people he saved, as well as those he tried his best with, in my opinion this is true.

Throughout the last few years when I've had a few spotlights in the media, and even now as I move into adult care, Dr Bob has continued to support me.

He looked after me with everything he could.

Someone said that "he made a mistake - and unfortunately it cost a life. But (this) should not distinguish the life saving, excellent care he has given to so many here".

In relation to this quote, I agree Bob made a mistake, but we shouldn't ignore those he saved.

Dr Bob - my hero, my saviour.

Belfast Telegraph

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