Friday, January 11 2013, 10:31 AM MST
Seizure Response Dog Saves Boy's Life
(KUTV) Little Porter’s dog, Thumper, is more than a companion; he is a life-saver and a measure of comfort for a loving mother.
“I had this brand new baby and I knew he was having a seizure and I didn't know what to do,” Johanne Holmes, Porter’s mother, says.
Johanne Holmes shares her most frightening moment as a mother. “I flipped out, I was beside myself. It was horrifying. It changed everything,” she says. Her fourth son, Porter, at just 8 weeks old had his first epileptic seizure –and it wouldn't be his last.
Not knowing until now what it is –a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome–doctors initially believed Porter would grow out of them. Instead, they got worse.
“Being life-flighted constantly and with tubes down his throat, it was heart wrenching,” Johanne says.
Porter was flown to the hospital over 20 times, in the NICU even more than that.
“There's a thing called 'suit up' which is sudden unexpected death in epilepsy where these children pass away in their sleep because of a seizure,” Johanne explains. ”I lay awake every night listening for him to have a seizure in his sleep.”
But that’s all changed thanks to Thumper. “With Thumper by Porter's bedside now, he can alert me and tell me when Porter's having a seizure,” Johanne says.
But barking for help isn't all this highly trained service dog does for little Porter. He also fetches lifesaving medicine.
“So Porter can't roll onto his back and aspirate, he stays there til Porter's seizures are done and then we can put him in an over and downer across Porter's legs so Porter can't get up and injure himself after a seizure,” Johanne says. “I have complete trust that this dog will take care of my son when the time comes. He's proven it already.
And because of Thumper, Johanne says Porter is doing so much better.
“Porter's language has started to explode because of the dog. It’s great to see, you know, a lot of kids with Dravet syndrome are non-verbal and for Porter to talk to me is a miracle,” Johanne explains.
Johanne says she and her family will be forever grateful to those who helped them be able to afford the luxury. “I want the best for my son. I want him to be happy and healthy and I want him to have the best life he can possibly have.”
Service dogs can cost upwards of $20,000. Porter has his thanks to a number of grants and donations–one from a Colorado family who lost their son to Dravet's.
“They have turned something tragic into something positive for our kids,” Johanne says, thankfully.
(Copyright Sinclair Broadcasting Group)