Saving lives, spreading smiles

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alexis M. Morris

Less than six months after starting his first job as an attending physician at a hospital located in Muncie, Ind., Maj. (Dr.) Gregory Taylor, 434th Aerospace Medicine Squadron emergency medical services director, and his team responded to a radio call for a 20-year-old female experiencing cardiac arrest caused by a pulmonary embolism - a diagnosis that holds a harrowing 98% mortality rate. 

While the Ball State University student would eventually join 2% of all patients who survive the condition, Taylor believes unforgettable cases like these are why emergency medicine physicians choose to go into the field in the first place. 

“Whatever comes through that door, whether it be a cough, a gunshot, cardiac arrest, a stabbing, we are equipped to handle that. We are a group of individuals amid organized chaos trained to save a life,” said Taylor. “And that potential to save a life is something special.” 

For the Grissom Airman, however, saving lives is just one facet of a broader mission that extends beyond the confines of a hospital or clinic. 

Inspired by the transformative impact of a gifted weekend vacation for his family during the final weeks of his mother's battle with multiple myeloma, Taylor founded Physicians for Wishes, an organization aimed at granting wishes to individuals with critical illness, in June 2023. 

“I call it ‘Physicians for Wishes' instead of ‘Physician for Wishes’ because to have more doctors, or really any health care professionals for that matter, that want to be a part of something that has the potential to impact others is the goal.” 

Within three months of launching, the channel granted its first wish to a 20-year-old with Glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, who was receiving hospice care. 

The wish was a four-day vacation to Lake Michigan with his family, and was meticulously arranged by Taylor and Physicians for Wishes. The trip provided a temporary escape from the harsh realities of his illness, allowing him to laugh, smile and experience joy amidst his challenging circumstances, according to Taylor. 

On November 6, 2023, less than two months after his wish had been granted, he passed away with loved ones by his side. 

“His family will remember that vacation for the rest of their lives,” shared Taylor. “Watching the video still gives me goosebumps, but this is what we are all about, giving back to hopefully bring that much needed smile. We are Physicians for Wishes.”