More than three million Americans have Epilepsy -- a brain disorder marked by seizures.
A South Windsor family shared their story with Eyewitness News about how a recent diagnosis of Epilepsy has changed their lives, and how a dog may be just the medicine they need.
Three-year-old Malea Gerich-Grady is a happy little girl who loves books, dolls and tea parties, but what you can’t see, is something even her parents couldn’t see coming.
“On May 14, 2014, things changed for us,” said Laura Gerich-Grady, Malea’s mother.
Malea went to bed that night, healthy and in good spirits, but hours later, her father heard a strange gurgling noise coming from her bedroom.
“When I heard the noise coming out of her room, I turned the hall light on,” said Ed Gerich-Grady. “Then I found her blue and not responsive.”
While they waited for the ambulance, Malea’s parents began CPR. Her mother, who is a nurse, could see her daughter was slipping away.
Malea was given oxygen and rushed to Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, and 24 hours later, tests revealed that she had a seizure, and she was diagnosed with Epilepsy.
“Seizures are a sort of uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain,” said Dr. Jennifer Madan Cohen, medical director of the Epilepsy Center at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
Some children will outgrow Epilepsy, which is the hope for Malea, but for now, medication can help, but there is no guarantee.
“We are constantly on guard and constantly watching her and observing for any changes we may see in her,” Laura Gerich-Grady said.
Soon, there will be another pair of eyes watching her.
The family has turned to Canines 4 Hope, in Palm City, Fl., to train a seizure awareness dog named 'Hope' for Malea.
“The service dog could do amazing things for Malea and help her to gain independence as she grows,” said Laura Gerich-Grady.
The family is hoping to raise $16,000 to have Hope by the summer, and priceless peace of mind.
“I think there will be a huge level of comfort achieved for our family and for Malea as she continues to grow,” Laura Gerich-Grady said.
To help Malea and her family, visit their fundraising page by clicking here.
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