A Facebook status update led to stories on the Today Show and Good Morning America, a Time magazine article and more than 50 other local and national stories about a Nesbit, Miss., mom and her 3-year-old daughter, Rylee. Tara Taylor posted a photo of her youngest daughter’s latest hairstyle, which Rylee did herself. One of Tara’s friends noticed something else in the photo—Rylee’s left eye appeared to glow. The friend, Stacy Carter, texted Tara to alert her that the glow might be a symptom of a larger problem.
Tara heeded Stacy’s warning and took Rylee to the Baptist Eye Centre for an evaluation, where she discovered Rylee couldn’t see out of her left eye. Dr. Jorge Calzada diagnosed Rylee with Coat’s disease, a rare condition caused by an abnormal leaking of blood vessels behind the eye. If left untreated, the disease could cause blindness. Fortunately, Rylee’s condition was diagnosed in time for surgeons to save her vision. After two surgeries, her vision has improved.
Baptist’s public relations team pitched the story to News Channel 3, and it aired on Monday, March 31. The station also posted the story on its Facebook page, and it quickly went viral. Within two days, the story drew 1,700 likes, 400 shares and more than 50 comments, and it spawned dozens of local and national stories about Rylee. The coverage led to a number calls to the Eye Centre from concerned parents around the world who realized their children might suffer from the same condition.
Located within Baptist Women’s Hospital, the Eye Centre treats and corrects eye illnesses and trauma. The center provides specialized care for patients of all ages, from premature babies to adults. Since January 2013, physicians have performed more than 100 surgeries at the center. To refer patients to the Eye Centre, please call 901-227-8900.