A Hero Dog Saves the Life of a Teen Boy Having a Stroke

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Heroes come in all shapes and sizes; some even have four legs! That’s right, our furry friends, like dogs, can be heroes too!

From locating and sniffing out bombs to rescuing people from burning buildings, dogs have proven time and time again that they are more than just our furry companions. 

In fact, another act of heroism by a dog has hit the news.

A border collie named Axel is now being hailed a hero for saving the life of a 17-year-old Texas boy, Gabriel Silva, who was experiencing a stroke.

Axel is the family’s rescue dog.

Amanda Tanner, Gabriel’s mom, reported that Axel had jumped on their bed and was persistent in waking up both her and her husband, Daines, around 5 a.m. on August 26th, 2023.

At first, they thought Axel needed to go outside, so Daines opened the door to the family’s backyard. However, the dog stayed put in front of the teenager’s door and began pawing at his door. Axel urged the teen boy’s father to go to Gabriel’s room.

Upon checking on Gabriel, Daines noticed that his son was experiencing a medical episode. Gabriel could not feel his right side, lift his right arm, or grab his father’s hands. His speech was also slurred.

The couple quickly drove Gabriel to the hospital’s emergency room, where they discovered their son had a stroke. There, doctors discovered the healthy, athletic teenager was actually having a stroke.

After diagnostic exams, doctors found that Gabriel’s stroke was caused by a dissection of an artery that supplies blood to the brain. That means a tear in an artery that delivers blood to the brain. 

Because of the tear, it prevented the blood flow to part of Gabriel’s brain and triggered the stroke. An angiogram also revealed he suffered a left-sided stroke that led to weakness on the right side of his body. 

It’s important to note that these types of tears commonly cause stroke in people under 30.

Gabriel is a healthy and talented soccer player who’s also a senior in high school. Just before he suffered a stroke, he was getting his school pictures taken and looking forward to graduating next year.  

Gabriel says he didn’t have any health problems before. However, he complained of a headache the night before. After a while, he felt better, played video games instead, and slept. The stroke happened sometime overnight.

Dr. Sabih Effendi, the neurosurgeon who treated Gabriel, said that Gabriel would not have recovered if Axel, the dog, had failed to wake up the family. Gabriel was lucky their dog was there to save him.

“When somebody’s acutely having a stroke, the neurons are dying… If he was not found and another three or four hours went by, there would have been more and more and more brain injury.” Dr. Effendi stated.

While hospitalized, Gabriel received blood thinners and IV fluids to restore blood flow to the brain and increase blood volume. According to the doctors, the tear in the artery will eventually heal on its own.

Dr. Effendi adds, “The longer that went by without being on a blood thinner, his stroke would have been worse and worse, to the point where he may have been paralyzed on his right side for the rest of his life or unable to speak at all. Being found earlier because of the dog significantly improved his outcome.”

During his stay, Gabriel’s rehabilitation included occupational, physical, and speech therapy several times weekly to aid his recovery. This therapy includes activities such as solving algebraic equations, using his iPad for typing and playing Nintendo Switch to enhance his hand-eye coordination.

After two weeks, he was discharged from the hospital and continued his recovery at home. 

Gabriel has made impressive progress less than two months after his stroke. For the time being, he will be home-schooled. However, he aims to re-enroll in high school in time for the spring soccer season. 

As for Axel, the dog has been very protective of Gabriel since his health scare and is seldom away from his side. 

According to Gabriel’s mother, Axel is now sleeping in Gabriel’s room, and his doors are open so he can come in and out. 

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