A three-year-old boy who was admitted to the intensive care unit with a rare brain condition miraculously recovered after a therapy dog put his paw on his hand.
Oscar Haskell's mum, Zoe Relph was told to expect the worst as her son's condition was deteriorating and he was becoming unresponsive.
When his heart rate rocketed, he was brought into the ICU.
Speaking to the Mirror , Ms Relph: "We weren’t expecting him to pull through at all, he wasn’t responding at all and his heart rate was through the roof.
“He had 26 tubes into him, six brain probes drilled into his skull and he had machines keeping him alive.”
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Doctors then came up with an idea and an alternative "medication" – and in came golden retriever, Leo.
“The doctors asked would we be interested in meeting a therapy dog,” Zoe said.
“I was shocked to think of a dog in intensive care. Doctors told me to keep talking to Oscar so he could hear my voice.The mum-of-three added: "We didn’t know if he could hear us or not. But I always promised the boys we’d have a puppy.”
Recalling through tears the words she said to her son, Zoe says: “I promised him if he got through it, I’d get him a dog. That’s all I kept saying to him over and over.”
Lyndsey Uglow, therapy dog Leo's dog handler entered and placed a mat over Oscar to protect his tubes, and put Leo’s paw on Oscar’s hand.
“And then his heart rate came down,” Zoe recalls. “It was amazing. The intensive care doctors were crying, it was a pure miracle. He hadn’t moved his face, nothing was moving at all. And then he smiled.”
The miracle happened in October 2016 at Southampton Children’s Hospital and since then Oscar's health has gone from strength to strength.
Meanwhile, Leo is vying for an award at Crufts.
Oscar was diagnosed with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis.
“It means he had an auto-immune bug which tricked his brain into attacking itself, effectively,” Zoe explains.
“He’s tried lots of different treatments but nothing compares to how much Leo has helped him.”
Zoe believes her son might not have pulled through without the help of Leo, she said: "I really think if it weren’t for Leo, Oscar would have given up. Leo never left his side after that."
Leo is one of six therapy dogs at Southampton Children’s Hospital who have helped 10,000 children.
The SCH therapy dog team provide animal assisted intervention, including paediatric intensive care, oncology, cardiology, orthopaedics, renal and surgical wards.
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