Web Exclusive: Little girl gets to take her dog into surgery

Web Exclusive

(CNN/WTVD) - A 7-year-old girl and her dog share an inseparable bond.  So much so that her four-legged friend was allowed to help doctors as she underwent surgery.

Kaelyn Krawczyk or KK as family and friends call her, suffers from mast cell activation disorder.
"She can have reactions that range form mild to life-threatening anaphylaxis . And reactions can be from triggers such as mild as she's too tired, fatigued, stressed, foods, chemicals, medications, exercise," says Michelle Krawczyk, KK's mother.

Another trigger for one of these attacks is the anesthetic used for procedures to help treat her.
But now her service dog JJ is helping with that.

"JJ is very sensitive and often can tell us that KK is having a reaction or starting to have a reaction before we see any clinical symptoms. She's actually alerted before monitors have been able to catch her reactions," says Michelle.

And that's what convinced Duke hospital to allow the dog inside a special procedure room during KK's latest operation.

"If I didn't believe in it I guess I wouldn't have asked that JJ come with us today , and provide that extra warning, we don't want to wait till KK has a problem to treat it; we want all the warning we can have to make sure we can keep her safe," says Dr. Brad Taicher.

The family got JJ from a Chapel Hill non profit called Eyes Ears Nose and Paws, and they're the ones who trained her to detect the scent KK gives off shortly before one of her episodes.

"We can sleep at night, which we didn't do well before because we always worried she'd have a reaction she didn't wake up from...and now we know JJ can take care of her and JJ will let us know if something is not right," says Michelle.

This was a first for Duke.  Doctors there say they would do it again under the right circumstances on a case to case basis.  This surgery was relatively minor, so the risk of infection from having the dog in the room was very low.


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