A 7-year-old girl from Apex, N.C., was allowed to be accompanied by her service dog while she underwent surgery.
ABC News reports that Kaelyn “KK” Krawczyk suffers from a rare disease called mast cell activation disorder, or mastocytosis, causing her to have “mild to violent” allergic reactions, which includes a severe drop in blood pressure and trouble breathing.
Doctors found that the dye used in surgeries as well as the chemicals in anesthesia can also trigger a reaction.
About 18 months ago, KK’s family decided to get a service dog, a terrier named “JJ,” who would alert them if she was having a medical emergency. Trained by a Chapel Hill nonprofit organization called Eyes, Ear, Nose, and Paws, JJ is able to detect the scent of cell changes before KK has one of her dangerous allergic attacks.
"Because JJ is so sensitive I can let KK do all the things she would normally do until JJ alerts me it's time to stop," KK’s mother, Michelle Krawczyk, told ABC.
Doctors allowed JJ and her trainer in the operating room at North Carolina’s Duke University Medical Center. This is the first time the hospital has permitted an animal in an operating room.
“It was kind of logical, actually,” Dr. Brad Taicher, the anesthesiologist whose idea it was to get hospital approval for JJ to be allowed in the operating room, told the News Observer. “Knowing what JJ could do, we realized that JJ was not much different from other monitors we use.”
Doctors said KK's surgery was relatively minor and the risk of infection from having a canine in the room was low, according to WTVD. Under the right circumstances on a case by case basis, doctors say they would do it again.