Medical Alert Service Dog for Rachel
$325 Raised
3% of $12k goal
4 contributors
3 Years running
Please help us get a medical alert dog for our five year old, Rachel, to prevent permanent brain damage from low blood sugar seizures. More ...
My daughter, Rachel (5), has an extremely rare endocrine disorder called, Congenital Hyperinsulinism that causes her body to make unusually large amounts of insulin, especially in response to eating protein. It's something like the polar opposite of diabetes with a few rare twists. She needs to eat every two hours during the day (or more if she is especially active) and cannot eat protein only meals as this can make her blood sugar drop to critical levels rapidly. The disease prevents her body from burning fat or muscle to make glucose, even when her blood sugar is critically low, so she is at extremely high risk of permanent brain damage from low blood sugar. We check her blood sugar first thing in the morning, before every meal, any time she "looks low," and I wake at night to check her. I am happy to report, she is now able to do most of the mechanics of checking her own sugar. We are still working on teaching "safe" numbers and unsafe numbers that require her to eat right away.

I have found a local trainer with an excellent track record who is willing to train a medical alert service dog for us for $8,500. That combined with the cost of the dog itself, and the necessary associated costs having a service dog will incur we are looking conservatively at about $10,000. (I've listed $12,000 as the goal, because Paypal and Fundrazer take a total of 7.9% off the top.) The "normal" cost from other training organizations is $18,000 to as high as $35,000 in some parts of the country.

To make things more complicated, my husband also has the same disease. He is one of around 100 people in the world with this particular genetic mutation that has reached his age (40 yrs). When my husband was born, most of the infants born with congenital hyperinsulinism died shortly after birth or if they were lucky enough to be diagnosed, their pancreas' were removed and they are now diabetics. My family is a family of miracles! Nearly 50% of children born with this disease have profound permanent brain damage! Because there are two people in the house with blood sugar issues the stress on one service dog would be extreme. To prevent a service dog from being overwhelmed and prone to burnout we will ultimately need to get two service dogs. One to go with Rachel during the day and one to "work" during the night while the other rests. Honestly, a big portion of why we need a dog is for me. Caring for a child with a life-threatening medical issue is stressful. Waking every night to check blood sugar is exhausting. If I knew that a service dog would alert me to the impending danger it would relieve a mountain of worry! If I knew I had a helper that was always with Rachel, I would also worry a lot less. The last, and not insignificant reason for getting a dog for Rachel is to help Rachel feel "normal." Rachel is looking forward to a medical alert dog being able to alert for her. When she says this there is a sense of relief in her voice that she does not have the vocabulary to articulate yet. Despite our best efforts to help her identify what being low feels like she has not been able to put words to the feelings. I think her sense of relief comes from knowing a dog can tell us when she is feeling bad when she can not.
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