Romford teen’s narcolepsy transformed by special dog
�A Romford teenager who suffers from dangerous blackouts is having her life transformed by a dog with a one-of-a-kind skill.
Kelly Sears, from Alexandra Road, has narcolepsy, a condition which causes her to fall asleep without warning.
The 19-year-old Havering College student has tumbled down stairs and often wakes up with cuts and bruises following the frightening episodes. She has even fallen asleep in her dinner.
But clever cocker spaniel Theo is being trained to warn Kelly an attack is imminent before she passes out – the only dog in the world with the ability.
Two-year-old Theo has an ultra-sensitive nose which can detect the chemical changes which occur in Kelly’s body around the time of an attack.
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Trainer Claire Guest said: “We don’t know the name of the chemical but we do know that a change happens and we are training Theo to pick up that change in Kelly’s odour.”
Claire is the director of charity Medical Detection Dogs, which typically trains dogs to warn severe diabetics of changes in their blood sugar level.
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“We are currently training Theo to lick Kelly’s hand to warn her that she is about to fall asleep, so she can make herself safe,” said Claire.
“As far as we know Theo is the only dog trained to do this in the world. It’s very exciting to be involved in this.”
So far Theo is able to rouse Kelly with licks and nudges after she has fallen asleep and seek help if she doesn’t wake up quickly enough.
Kelly, who has around three fits a week, said: “I can’t imagine my life without Theo. I was getting worried about my future now that I’m nearing the end of my A-levels, but having Theo means I can live independently, go to work and go out alone – all things I didn’t think I was going to be able to do.”
Doctors initially thought Kelly suffered from ME after she started falling asleep in classes at school, but she was finally diagnosed with narcolepsy at the age of 15.
Since then she has been on strong medication to control the condition.
Kelly, who lives with mum and dad Lynn and Dave, both 47, and sisters Emma, 21, and Alice, 15, will have Theo until he is seven years old, after which his fitness will be reassessed.