Name: Terrie Taylor, DO
Current Residence: Traverse City, Michigan, and Blantyre, Malawi
Dr. Terri Taylor is saving the lives of children with malaria.
“These are kids who would not survive were they not able to be looked after on a ward that is as well staffed and as well supplied as our ward. So on that direct, immediate level, lives have been saved.”
She works in a place a lot of us wouldn’t recognize as a hospital, at least not the kind of hospital we’re used to in the United States. Family members tend to patients and sleep on the floor. There’s no air-conditioning. Death is part of each day. It’s intense.
“Every year there are several children who are just gut-wrenchers, kids you didn’t expect to die or kids that you’d become attached to or a parent who’s obviously crushed by the loss. And it’s hard and sometimes I just have to say we just need to take a break because you can’t absorb that much loss over and over without resting and processing it. As painful as it is to suffer along with the parents, I would feel worse if I didn’t feel anything.”
She’s been working in Malawi for more than two decades. Thanks to Taylor and her team, more and more children survive cerebral malaria.
“My ultimate goal is to figure out what is actually killing these kids with cerebral malaria and come in with an intervention that can yank more of them back from the brink.”
It’s two decades and counting. Taylor says finding a treatment or a surefire prevention is a long process. But she’s in it for the long haul.
“And that’s why I’m so appreciative of the fact that Michigan State has hung in there with me all these years, because that’s how long it takes. I’m grateful to be here.”
Terrie Taylor has dedicated the last two decades to researching malaria in sub-Saharan Africa where the disease kills as many as two million children each year. Taylor spends six months of each year—the rainy season—in Malawi where she leads a team that conducts research on malaria and treats patients. Her efforts are paying off. A partnership formed by MSU, Malawi, and GE Healthcare delivered the African country’s first and only MRI unit, which now allows Taylor to gain a clearer picture of the disease. As she helps save lives now, she continues to search for more effective means of treatment and, better yet, a cure.
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