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East Rockaway teen waits for a new heart

Fundraisers in works to help pay family's mounting medical expenses


When 19-year-old Taylor Clarke started her fall semester this past September at Marist College in upstate Poughkeepsie, the sophomore was looking forward to achieving her dream of becoming a special education teacher. But soon, Taylor, a 2014 graduate of East Rockaway High School, began to feel fatigued while walking to class, even having to stop and sit to take breaks.

At first, doctors thought that she had a vitamin deficiency. The fatigue continued, however, affecting her muscles so that she was having trouble walking. Taylor was forced to take a medical leave from school as the fatigue got worse. While home, she met with various doctors, and went through a round of tests. No one knew what was wrong with her.

On Dec. 2, Taylor was rushed to the emergency room. Since then, she has been in several hospitals, been seen by specialists, and has undergone many tests and procedures. Her condition has worsened, and she experienced stroke-like symptoms, including paralysis, dementia and loss of speech. Doctors diagnosed that the problem was with her heart and that she was in dire need of a transplant.

Taylor was transferred to Westchester Medical Center, where there is a full-service heart center. On Dec. 10, she had surgery to put in a left ventricular assist device, or LVAD, that was implanted inside her chest to help her heart pump blood throughout her body. She is No. 1 on the list for a transplant at the medical center.

On Dec. 13, Taylor’s family posted on social media: “Taylor had a good night. She still gets a little restless. She is fighting hard and we can only pray and try to comfort her and each other. Taylor is in critical care waiting for a new heart.

She is hooked up to the ECMO [Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation] machine that saved her life and has the LVAD in her that is pumping her heart. The nurses that care for her 24 hours are amazing and these brilliant doctors are doing everything they can to bridge her to a new heart. We need as much prayer and goodwill as possible to make that happen. Thank you for all your love and support.”

Teaming Up for Taylor

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