For every child, learning to walk is a milestone.
But for 20-month-old Taylor Marshall, the occasion of his first steps is a double triumph - over nearly losing his young life and actually losing his left leg, his hands, and his right toes.
“He’s a little monkey,” his mother, Terri Lewsley, told InsideEdition.com Tuesday. Taylor is toddling thanks to a prosthetic left leg, and a splint attached to his right leg.
“He got discharged from hospital in November,” the British mom said. “They fitted him with a leg around early December. Ever since then, we’ve been trying to help him get his balance back. We’ve been taking little steps.”
Baby Taylor in the hospital, after gangrene had settled in his legs
Taylor was hospitalized for more than six months after falling ill last year. “On the 19th of April, he went to bed absolutely fine,” his mother said. “He woke crying, he was really struggling to cry. He was really, really hot … then he started being sick and then he started shaking.”
Taylor was only eight months old. “He was the happiest, most content little baby” until that night, she said.
Within one day, Taylor was in the hospital with a rapidly spreading rash and doctors were telling Lewsley that he had meningococcal septicemia, and that he would be placed in a medically induced coma.
The bacterial disease, coupled with septicemia, resulted in gangrene setting into his hands, legs and feet. But before that, doctors had “sat us down and said he only had a few hours to live,” his mother said.
She has no idea how her son contracted meningitis. “We’ll never know how he caught it. That’s the hardest part for us,” she said. Doctors told her someone could have walked by and coughed near Taylor, or it could have been something he touched.
Baby Taylor after amputation surgery
Taylor is only now beginning to realize he is different from other children. “He gets very frustrated,” she said, when he tries to pick up something, which is impossible without fingers.
As for his prosthetic leg, “when he first got it, it was more like a toy to him,” she said. “But now he knows where it goes,” and he knows that when he gets strapped into it, he can walk.
“He’s absolutely brilliant with kids,” his mom said. “He gets along with everyone.” Older children will ask questions, she said, and that’s fine. Recently, they met another boy with the same name who wondered aloud “why do I have two legs and he has one?”
Lewsley, who is a single mother, says she gets tremendous support from friends and family.
And she considers herself lucky. “He’s very happy,” she said.
The family is now raising money for the children's ward at the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham where Taylor was treated. Visit their fundraising page here.