Wednesday 28 September 2016

This seven-year-old boy's life was saved by his diabetes-sniffing dog

Sasha Brady

Published 12/03/2016 | 15:22

Luke Nuttall (7) and Jedi the 'diabetes dog'. Photo: Saving Luke - Luke and Jedi - Fighting Type 1 Diabetes Together / Facebook.
Luke Nuttall (7) and Jedi the 'diabetes dog'. Photo: Saving Luke - Luke and Jedi - Fighting Type 1 Diabetes Together / Facebook.
Luke Nuttall (7) and Jedi the 'diabetes dog'. Photo: Saving Luke - Luke and Jedi - Fighting Type 1 Diabetes Together / Facebook.
Luke Nuttall (7) and Jedi the 'diabetes dog' are inseparable. Photo: Saving Luke - Luke and Jedi - Fighting Type 1 Diabetes Together / Facebook.
All smiles for the camera. Luke Nuttall (7) and Jedi the 'diabetes dog'. Photo: Saving Luke - Luke and Jedi - Fighting Type 1 Diabetes Together / Facebook.

When a 7-year-old boy with type 1 diabetes had a sudden drop in blood sugar, his dog, Jedi, knew right away and acted fast to save the child's life.

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Luke Nuttall was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was just two-years-old.

His mother Dorrie has to check his blood sugar levels up to ten times a day, even during the night when her son is sleeping.

The family brought in Jedi, a black Labrador 'diabetes dog' to help them. The dog monitors Luke's blood sugar level by smell, and alerts other members of the family when it becomes too high or too low.

Luke Nuttall (7) and Jedi the 'diabetes dog'. Photo: Saving Luke - Luke and Jedi - Fighting Type 1 Diabetes Together / Facebook.
Luke Nuttall (7) and Jedi the 'diabetes dog'. Photo: Saving Luke - Luke and Jedi - Fighting Type 1 Diabetes Together / Facebook.

On one particular night, Jedi jumped on and off the bed in an attempt to wake Dorrie who was fast asleep.

"No alarms were going off, no one was checking blood, no one was thinking about diabetes," she wrote on Facebook.

Dorrie checked Luke's Dexcom device, used to monitor his blood glucose levels without a finger prick. She saw that it reported his glucose level at 100, a stable number, and attempted to return to sleep.

However, Jedi continued to attempt to wake her up and ignored her attempts to push him off the bed - that's when Dorrie knew that something must be wrong.

In the four years that Luke has had diabetes he has never woken up on his own to notice how low his blood sugar levels have dropped - which is why he relies on his parents to wake him up and for Jedi's alerts, which often become before his monitor's.

On her Facebook page, Dorrie wrote: "So she pricked his finger and found out that his blood sugar was low - and likely dropping fast. Luke has never woken up on his own when his blood sugar drops, so his mom and his dog are his two safeguards.

Luke Nuttall (7) and Jedi the 'diabetes dog' are inseparable. Photo: Saving Luke - Luke and Jedi - Fighting Type 1 Diabetes Together / Facebook.
Luke Nuttall (7) and Jedi the 'diabetes dog' are inseparable. Photo: Saving Luke - Luke and Jedi - Fighting Type 1 Diabetes Together / Facebook.

"Luke was laying right next to me, just inches from me, and without Jedi I would have had no idea that he was dropping out of a safe range. His CGM would have caught up and alerted in the next 20 minutes or so and I had an alarm set for an hour from then to get up and check, but Jedi's early alerts help us prevent dangerous situations."

The Nuttall family, from Los Angeles, California, have been training Jedi since he was just an 11-month-old puppy to recognise the change in Luke's blood sugar. The dog can smell the chemical compounds in the little boy's blood changes from as far as across a playground, according to Dorrie.

The clever dog was trained to bring a stick to alert Luke’s parents, to wave a paw if his blood sugar is too high, or to bow if it’s too low.

Complications that arise as a result of hypoglycemia, the deficiency of glucose in the blood stream, can be fatal and Jedi's alerts are live-saving.

All smiles for the camera. Luke Nuttall (7) and Jedi the 'diabetes dog'. Photo: Saving Luke - Luke and Jedi - Fighting Type 1 Diabetes Together / Facebook.
All smiles for the camera. Luke Nuttall (7) and Jedi the 'diabetes dog'. Photo: Saving Luke - Luke and Jedi - Fighting Type 1 Diabetes Together / Facebook.

"It's in those moments when our guards are down, when we are just living life, when we let our minds drift from diabetes, that [the disease] has the upper hand and things can get scary very fast," Mrs Nuttall wrote in her Facebook post. "But thankfully we have Jedi."

This may just look like a dog, a sleeping boy and a number on a screen, but this, this moment right here is so much...

Posted by Saving Luke - Luke and Jedi - Fighting Type 1 Diabetes Together on Thursday, March 3, 2016

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