Erin Haas Seizure Service Dog

Erin’s story

Hello!  We are raising money to help with the cost of obtaining, training and maintaince of a Seizure Assistance dog for Erin Haas.  Here is her story:

Erin was born with seizures though they went undiscovered until she was 3 months old.  She was diagnosed with Infantile Spasms and had these seizures until she was 18 months old. During that time period she had 100-250 seizures a day and she developed very slowly.  She avoided eye contact and was tested for autism, which came back negative.  We tried multiple medications with no success.

When she was 18 months old she started having complex partial, focal, and tonic seizures and was diagnosed with Refractory Epilepsy. Along with medications, we have tried the Ketogenic diet and the modified Atkins diet but nothing worked and her seizures got progressively more intense.  

Erin has endured multiple broken bones, stitches and contusions from seizures in her short life.  As a family, we have had to deal with the nasty looks we get because her face was constantly bruised from hitting various hard surfaces, usually bathroom counters and the floor.  There is little worse than making a noise or sudden movement that causes Erin to have a seizure.  She is afraid to eat at the table, afraid to wash her hands, afraid to be in the kitchen at all.  When asked what she wanted for Christmas one year she replied, “I want God to pad my world so that I don’t have to be afraid.”

At the age of 7 she received a Vegus Nerve Stimulator (VNS) implant.  This device sends regular electrical impulses to her brain through the Vegas Nerve to interrupt seizure activity.  Her implant goes off every 15 seconds unless she is having a seizure and we activate the switch.  When the switch is activated it sends a stronger electrical pulse to her brain in an attempt to interrupt the seizure.  Though it does not effectively stop the seizure it does tend to alleviate the side effects of the seizure and assists Erin in recovery.

Erin had 4 brain surgeries from 2011 to 2013.  The first surgery was a Partial Corpus Callosotomy which is a surgical procedure for the treatment of medically refractory epilepsy. In this surgery the 2/3rds of the corpus callosum is cut in an effort to limit the spread of epileptic activity between the two halves of the brain. The next surgery was a Complete Corpus Callosotomy.  In this surgery they cut the rest of the corpus callosum. The 3rd surgery was exploratory.  They opened her up and placed EEG electrodes directly on her brain then she was monitored with the electrodes in place for 5 days.  During this time, she was put through a battery of tests, some to induce seizure activity and others to determine exactly where certain motor and speech functions were in her brain.  Once they believed they had a location on the area the seizures were originating, they went in and removed the electrodes and she had the 4th surgery. In the 4th surgery, they performed a resection where they removed portion of her brain about the size of a roll of quarters. We were hopeful that this surgery would eliminate her seizures but they presented again almost immediately.

For a couple of years there was nothing new to try.  It was a hopeless time.  In 2015, the state approved a Cannabis Oil trial called CBD.  Erin was the first pediatric patient admitted to the program.  The oil helps reduce a good bit of her seizure activity but not all.  She is still at constant risk of falling. 

In addition, and perhaps because of the constant threat of falling, Erin has developed severe anxiety.  When she is anxious she is at a higher risk of having a tonic seizure that can cause her to fall and usually causes harm.

Erin will never live independently.  She will never be able to drive because of the seizure activity and because of the complete Corpus Callosotomy.  The Assistance dog will give her warning of oncoming seizures and companionship when she is alone.  We also believe having an assistance dog will also help with her anxiety issues, which will in turn reduce seizure activity.  Erin has a maternal nature so we also feel that having the responsibility of the dog will give her more confidence and freedom.

**Purdue University has received confirmation from the NCAA that this fund raiser is permissible and will not impact the eligibility of any Purdue student-athlete provided the provisions of NCAA Bylaw 16.11.1.7 are satisfied.**

Please consider helping Erin with this incredible journey!
  • William James 
    • $100 
    • 62 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $25 
    • 62 mos
  • Denise Jagiella 
    • $10 
    • 62 mos
  • Chloe Hugill 
    • $50 
    • 62 mos
  • Greg LeMond 
    • $50 
    • 62 mos
See all

Organizer

Rachel Coleman Haas 
Organizer
Gadsden, AL