Family, friends celebrate homecoming for 9-year-old Lexington boy whose heart stopped

jkegley@herald-leader.comAugust 1, 2012 

Two things were unusual about 9-year-old Colby Taylor's arrival at his house in the Beaumont neighborhood Wednesday night.

First, Colby got out of a glistening white limousine amid cheers from about 25 friends and family members.

More importantly, it was his first time home since his heart stopped beating for about six minutes while he was playing with friends.

The Lexington boy experienced sudden cardiac arrest June 23 at a birthday party for a classmate. Having gone several minutes without oxygen to his brain, it was unclear when — or if — he would recover.

Because Colby had never had a major health problem before, his family was shocked.

"He went into the doctor's once a year to be measured and weighed and immunized," said his father, Jamie Taylor.

Colby did not have a heart attack; doctors found nothing wrong with his heart valves or muscles.

"It's a problem with the communication between the brain and the heart," said the boy's aunt Patti Edmon. "Nine times out of 9½ , they don't know what caused it."

As the smiling, shaggy-haired boy ran from person to person at his welcome-home party doling out hugs, he appeared no worse for wear. It was difficult to spot signs of his ordeal, other than a black sling on his left arm which he has to wear while he recovers from an operation to install an internal defibrillator.

His family said his recovery was thanks to the hard work of Lexington firefighters and EMTs, doctors in Lexington and Cincinnati, and a handful of small miracles.

"If just one thing had happened differently, Colby might not have been coming home today," his aunt said.

"It was just crazy the way that it happened," Jamie Taylor said.

Colby's parents had planned to take him and his brothers, Jimmy, 13, and Will, 6, on a boating trip to Taylorsville Lake the day that he collapsed. His mother, Lesa, insisted he go to his classmate's party instead.

The party was at the home of Dr. Fernando de Castro, a Lexington dermatologist. Lesa Taylor said she planned to drop off her son and leave, but she saw a friend and ended up staying through the whole party.

As the party was winding down, a child ran up to her and pointed to where Colby had collapsed in the yard.

"They had been playing sword fights and things like that, and I thought, 'Maybe he's just play acting,'" Lesa Taylor said.

But when she turned her son onto his back, his eyes had rolled back in his head and he wasn't breathing. She called for de Castro, who performed CPR. Edmon said de Castro was not able to get the boy's heart started again, but his breaths kept oxygen flowing to Colby's brain.

Within six minutes, a fire truck arrived carrying three firefighters and a defibrillator. They shocked the boy's heart, and it began beating. An ambulance pulled up a short time later and rushed Colby to University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital.

Lesa Taylor paused briefly when discussing what might have happened if Colby had collapsed on a boat in the middle of a lake rather than at the home of a doctor trained in CPR.

"Dr. de Castro saved my son's life. I wouldn't have been able to perform CPR myself. I was too shaken up," she said.

Colby's family transferred him to Cincinnati Children's Hospital after he spent about 10 days at UK. He underwent physical and speech therapy there.

Colby had to relearn skills ranging from walking to holding a pencil, his family said, because of brain injury from lack of oxygen. But he has progressed from infantlike stages in the past 10 days.

He still has some trouble reading, writing and concentrating, but doctors cleared him to start fourth grade at The Lexington School this month.

"It has been miraculous," Edmon said.

On Wednesday, Colby summed up his experience. His biggest complaint? Hospital beds.

"The bed is sometimes uncomfortable," he said. "Now I can sleep in my own bed. It feels good to be home."

Josh Kegley: (859) 231-3197. Twitter: @HLPublicSafety.

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