When 7-year-old Kaelyn Krawczyk (KK) needed to undergo surgery last
month her doctors decided that they needed some extra expert help in
monitoring her condition. So they decided that the best help they could
ask for in the situation was from the little girl's service dog, JJ. It
was definitely a first for Duke University Medical Center and it
probably won't be the last.
KK has mastocytosis, a disease which can lead to her having life-threatening reactions to normal everyday things like stress, temperature changes, fatigue, and anesthesia. Her parents had heard about dogs that could alert people to low blood sugar and seizures. So they went in search of a dog that could alert them and KK to an approaching problem.
They ended up finding the organization Eyes, Ears, Nose and Paws, a non-profit in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where they train dogs to alert to a number of different diseases. There they were able to find JJ and she was specially trained to be able to monitor KK's condition.
JJ, a rescue dog that was abandoned at just five weeks old, is now KK's constant companion. When she senses that KK is about to be in trouble she lets the girls know and will even run to the kitchen to get the emergency kit and bring it back. JJ has given the Krawczyks the gift of peace of mind and KK the gift of being able to live a more normal life.
When KK started having frequent kidney infections last year and it became apparent that she had to have surgery there was a question about how to handle her condition during the procedure. There is equipment to monitor how patients are handling the anesthesia, but JJ's nose is far more sensitive. In an unprecedented decision the surgeons chose to install JJ in the operation room so that she would be able to alert them if KK was having a negative reaction to the anesthesia.
JJ was calm throughout the surgery and only gave a mild alert once so the doctors were aware of what was going on. Other than that everything went smoothly. Knowing that JJ was going to be there with her also probably helped KK stay more relaxed.
Since the procedure, the news of the unusual furry little anesthesia monitor has gone around the world and the doctors say that they have received support for their decision by and large. The innate wisdom on animals seems to be becoming used more and more.
For KK it comes down to one simple thing -- JJ is at the top of her "love list." And that is what really says it all.