– as told by Amy O’Brien
Tuesday, December 8, 2015 will be a day forever etched in the hearts and minds of the Turner Family and all of those close to them. On this day, 7 year old Allyson Turner, a vibrant, adventurous second grader, was found drowned in her bathtub. Allyson was taking a bath like any other 7 year old when her parents heard a loud noise. After calling up and hearing no response, they ran up and were faced with every parent’s worst nightmare; their daughter was unresponsive and underwater in the tub.Thinking fast, Allyson’s parents, Bridget and Brad Turner, started CPR immediately and continued until EMS came. Ultimately, this one act would truly save Allyson’s life. Allyson was taken to Abington Memorial Hospital and then airlifted to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. At that moment, the Turners did not know if their little girl would survive.
To help preserve brain function and allow Allyson’s lungs to heal, she was placed on a ventilator and put into a medically induced coma. To let her lungs relax, Ally was also placed on an ECMO machine used to take the blood out of her body, give it oxygen and send it back into her body. Being on this machine for 7 days required quite a lot of blood. While everyone waited and prayed at the hospital, Brad and Bridget took solace in the words etched in the wall of the waiting room at CHOP, “The hopes and dreams of a child are boundless…reaching far and wide.” At that time, they had no idea that over the upcoming weeks, Ally would show them how true this is.
While Brad and Bridget sat at Ally’s bedside, they would constantly tell Ally, “Just fight!” This plea from 2 loving parents became the mantra for all of those who love Ally and are following her story. Ally’s 11 year old brother, Liam, in his attempt to help in any way he could, came up with a t-shirt with this very statement, and now thousands of those shirts are being worn all over the country while we all continue to tell Ally, “Just fight,” right along with Brad and Bridget.
As Ally’s lungs healed and her body rested, she has fought every day to show the doctors and everyone else what she is made of and that she plans to continue to just fight. On December 19, Ally’s fight took a blow with the results of the MRI showing significant brain damage. But, that did not slow the prayers and it did not slow Ally’s fight! By December 23, the Turner family and the over 2000 members of the Just fight FaceBook page saw the Christmas miracle they had been praying for — Ally came off the ventilator and was now solely breathing on her own.
Since that day, Ally has continued to fight like a fierce warrior while looking like a beautiful princess. From pigtail braids by her daddy to her nails freshly painted by her mommy, Ally looks every bit like the 7 year old girl she is, while inside she has the heart of a champion fighter and is battling through the biggest fight of her life.
From the beginning, the outpouring of love from family, friends and the community has been amazing. A Go Fund Me page was started to help with expenses and medical bills while Brad and Bridget take leave from work to remain by Ally’s side (while still managing to be there for Liam), followed by a restaurant fundraiser and various other companies offering percentages of their sales. The Turner’s are truly moved by all of this and want everyone to know how thankful they are. However, the biggest thing that Brad and Bridget want people to learn from their own heartache is how incredibly vital it is to know CPR and be able to provide life saving measures to your child or anyone else in need. Bridget is a NICU nurse at Abington Hospital, and therefore no stranger to saving lives, but, when it came to saving the most important life to her, Bridget was able to do so because she knew CPR. She also had the wherewithal to encourage Brad to receive non-certified CPR training when Liam was born as he was often the sole caretaker while Bridget was at work.
While exactly what Ally’s future will look like remains uncertain, one thing we know is that she only has a future thanks to Brad and Bridget’s heroic actions. In addition, the Turner’s want to recognize the importance of donating blood. Ally needed a significant amount of blood during her time on the ECMO machine and this was possible because of donations.
As Brad and Bridget continue to help Ally fight each day, their hope is that they can turn the “Just fight” message into one that raises awareness for CPR training and blood donation. They want to ensure that from tragedy comes an opportunity. With the amazing outpouring of love from everyone who hears this story, one thing is for sure, if the saying is true that where there is great love, there are always miracles, then Ally’s miracles should never cease.
The Just Fight Foundation was formed in response to this tragic accident experienced by the Turner family on December 8, 2015, when Allyson, then age 7, sustained a traumatic brain injury. Allyson’s parents, both trained in CPR, immediately began to perform CPR on Allyson, an act which saved Allyson’s life. The Turner family was inspired by the outpouring of support from family, friends, community and the resources provided by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), and resolved to create an organization that would promote emergency preparedness in their community and beyond, educate the public in lifesaving techniques, and provide support for families facing life-altering events due to illness or injury.