A quick-thinking dog saved the life of a teenage boy having a potentially deadly medical emergency in Texas.
Gabriel Silva, 17, was saved by his family’s border collie, Axel, who alerted the teen’s parents that he was having a stroke, the Today Show first reported.
Amanda Tanner, Gabriel’s mom, told Today that Axel adamantly attempted to wake up both her and her husband, Daines, in their Texas home at about 5am on 26 August in the Houston-area community of Spring.
“He was pawing me more than normal to get me to move,” Tanner said to Today.
Guessing that Axel needed to be let out, Tanner opened the door to the family’s back yard. But instead of leaving the house, Axel ran downstairs to where Gabriel’s room was located and began pawing at his door.
Daines checked on Gabriel after the dog stayed put in front of the teenager’s door. There, Daines found that Gabriel was enduring some kind of a medical episode.
Gabriel was largely unintelligible. He slurred his words while attempting to tell his stepfather that his right side was numb and his vision was magnified, the Washington Post reported.
Daines quickly drove Gabriel to the emergency room. There, doctors discovered the healthy, athletic teenager was actually having a stroke.
After diagnostic exams, doctors found that a blood vessel connected to Gabriel’s brain had torn, preventing blood flow to part of his brain and triggering the stroke.
“We went from senior pictures Friday to the hospital the next morning and a turn of events never expected,” Amanda Tanner wrote on a Facebook post.
“Our entire lives stopped in time for a bit and basically exploded. I saw these things in movies and testimonials but never thought I’d ever experience such a thing,” she said in the post.
The neurosurgeon who treated Gabriel, Dr Sabih Effendi, told the Post that the teenager would not have recovered if Axel the dog had failed to wake up the family.
“Without that early notification of him getting to the hospital, you really would have had really permanent deficits that would have made him really nonfunctional and unable to live life,” Effendi said to the Post.
While hospitalized, Gabriel received occupational, physical and speech therapy to help his recovery. Part of Gabriel’s therapy included solving algebra problems, typing on his iPad, and playing Nintendo Switch to improve his hand-eye coordination.
Amanda noted in a Facebook post that doctors were “mesmerized” by how quickly the 17-year-old made progress. “His recovery and healing, in turn, has also been nothing but exceptionally miraculous,” she wrote in an 8 September post.
After two weeks in the hospital, Gabriel was discharged to recover at home, where he continued to attend therapy multiple times a week and to receive outpatient care.
The teenager will be home-schooled for the time being. His goal is to re-enrol in high school in time for the spring soccer season.
Gabriel still faces an increased risk of having another stroke and takes blood thinners to prevent a health emergency, the Post reported.
But Axel remains protective of Gabriel since his health scare, rarely leaving the teenager’s side.
“He’s now sleeping with Gabriel more, and Gabriel’s doors are open so he can go in and out,” Amanda Tanner said to Today. “He’s always been very sensitive to everything and everybody’s emotions at home.”