At only 4 years old, Michael survived a sudden cardiac arrest. After a harrowing few days, living through every parent's worst nightmare, Michael was diagnosed with a life-long condition, LQTS (Long QT Syndrome). As a result, Michael had heart surgery to place an ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator) in his abdomen with 2 leads attached to the outside of his heart to monitor, pace, and defibrillate when needed.
However, because of Michael's age, his ICD was programmed with a delay that causes him to pass out from the arrhythmia BEFORE the ICD delivers the shock(s) to correct it. The delay is to prevent Michael from feeling the pain associated with being shocked, a traumatic event for any child, but it is a necessary addition for Michael's well-being for many years to come.
While we are thankful Michael will be spared the experience of being shocked, the ICD delay is also VERY DANGEROUS if he is ever alone. Normal child behaviors like going potty or playing in his room now put Michael at serious risk. Should he pass out and hit his head or fall down, we might never know he's in danger until it is too late. Even his routine tiptoe from kid bed into our room at night puts his life in jeopardy. Moreover, as Michael grows, we want him to maintain some of his independence, which means he'll need to be able to shower and play on his own without us fearfully watching his every step.
As Michael's parents, we must to put our trust in the science that his ICD will go off when it is needed, but they are not infallible. Unfortunately, there is a chance, no matter how slight, that he could have an arrhythmia and his ICD fail. If he isn't in our line of sight at all times (a difficult task for even the best parents), then he's at risk.
On top of Michael's heart condition, he was also recently diagnosed with High Functioning Autism (Level 2). For the last 2 years, he has received speech therapy, as well as attending an ECEAP preschool. Soon, he will begin ABA therapy while also being screened for Occupational Therapy.
And that's where we need help.
A medical response dog trained to provide certain tasks related to autism, as well as Michael's lifelong condition, will enable Michael to live a more fulfilling life, one that would allow him to grow into a more independent and successful young man.
Luckily for us, we already have Marshall, a marvelous Goldendoodle who will be the guardian angel to help Michael for years to come. Knowing that we have a long road ahead of us, we have already reached out to a local training program that has assured us they can provide the training needed for Marshall's multifaceted job as a Michael's service dog.
Marshall's training will include:
+ Alerting someone when Michael is unresponsive
+ Remaining with Michael until he regains consciousness
+ Assisting Michael in recovering from the episode
+ Autism training to handle meltdown intervention
+ Security and stability when Michael is in large crowds
+ Lap pressure to help alleviate sensory overload
+ Any other training the professionals might deem necessary
Training even a regular dog is no easy task, but Marshall has a lot to learn so that he can best aid Michael. Unfortunately, that training cost comes at a premium, and while there are many amazing charities and organizations who provide service animals to the medically indicated, the waiting lists are long. The earlier Marshall gets his training, the more effective he can be for Michael, thereby increasing Michael's odds for a more normal, and safe, lifestyle.
I am hopeful there are some generous hearts that will assist in our journey to help Michael feel more secure and confident. I cannot express how important and HUGE this will be for him, and us.
Anything helps, even the smallest amount. And if you are unable to donate, taking a second to share this would mean the world to us.
Thank you all so very much!
If you're interested, below is the link my account of the events leading to this request. To those that choose to read this, please know it is a very difficult and emotional read.
- Ashley Noguera
- Naomi Dowding
- Rusty Floyd
- Daniel Whinery
- Alicia Bennett-Veitch
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