MDA: Hope and animals for a little girl

1:34 PM, Sep 1, 2010   |    comments
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By: Mike Bush

Eureka, Mo. (KSDK) --There's nothing quite as eloquent as the conversation between a child and her pets. 

Acceptance can make for a meaningful friendship. 

If 10-year-old Taylor Branson had her way every stray would have a home. Hers.

"We will be walking down the street and she'll see a puppy. If it's growling, foaming at the mouth she'll say, "daddy can I pet it?, " says Taylor's father Dan Branson.

In her house, Taylor has 1 dogs, 3 cats and a fish.

Despite all these distractions, Taylor has a lot of two legged friends too including her brother Corey. And she loves school

"She's amazing in school. She has all A's and B's, " says her mom Julie.

She just started the 5th grade which is something doctors told her parents wouldn't happen.

Shortly after Taylor was born, the Branson's became concerned.

"She never crawled, " says her father. "She'd roll over. Six to eight months she wasn't trying to crawl or anything."

At first, doctors thought she was just slow to develop but tests revealed something much more serious. One afternoon, in making the diagnosis a doctor uttered the three ugliest words the Branson's ever heard. Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

"Your life kind of passes in front of you, " says Julie.

SMA is a progressive disease that causes muscle degeneration and weakness. Eventually, it can take away the ability to breathe.

"He said life expectancy was six, " recalls Dan.

But the Branson's say, their outlook changed after making one phone call.

"Once we got in with the Muscular Dystrophy Association clinic and all of that, they are so positive, " explains Julie.

The Muscular Dystrophy Association has been dedicated to finding treatment and cures for neuromuscular diseases for more than 50 years. With their help, girls with SMA type 2 like Taylor are living better quality and much longer lives.

"They're always at the other end of the line, ' says Julie.

So these days when Taylor leaves her pets and goes out of the house, you can often find her out at the corral. On top of a horse.

"It's amazing to watch her on a horse. She just lights up, " says Julie.

You don't need big muscles to feel strong. That can happen sitting in a saddle.

"It simulates walking for her. So it works her hips and all the muscles in her body, " says Dan.

These days Taylor's even thinking about what she's going to be when she grows up.

As you might expect, at first, she wanted to be a veterinarian but now she's not sure that's such a good idea.

"Cause I don't like to give animals shots, " says Taylor.

The Branson's have hope that some day soon, MDA researchers will find a cure for Taylor and all patients affected by SMA.

"We're so close to it that the treatment is a sugar cube, " says Julie. "And they know the city and the state and the grocery store and the aisle and the shelf. They just don't know which box it's in."

In the meantime, one little girl is determined that every dog will have it's day. With Taylor.


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