The heroic actions of a beloved pet dog meant the difference between life and death for a teenage boy in Texas.
Gabriel Silva was a healthy, athletic 17-year-old with no previous medical conditions, according to NBC’s Today Show.
On 26 August, he told his family he had a headache but ended up feeling better and played video games before going to sleep.
Then in the middle of the night, the teenager suffered a spontaneous stroke in his bed.
His parents were completely unaware of the medical crisis going on in the other room.
His mother Amanda Tanner told Today that they would not have gone into his room until noon time; after all, he is a teenager who went to bed late the night before.
Such a delay could have proven catastrophic, according to Dr Sabih Effendi, a neurosurgeon who treated the teenager.
If Gabriel had been left untreated for three or four hours, he could have ended up with serious brain damage, he said.
Ultimately, the terrifying situation could have ended up very differently had it not been for Axel, the family’s one-year-old border collie.
Ms Tanner said that she and her husband were abruptly awoken by Axel at around 5am when the dog jumped onto their bed.
“He was pawing me more than normal to get me to move,” she said.
They tried to take the dog outside, but he refused to move and stood still by the teenager’s bedroom door.
Thanks to the dog’s persistence, Gabriel’s stepfather checked in on the teenager in his bedroom and quickly realised something was very wrong.
The teenager was slurring his words and couldn’t feel his right side. He was rushed to the emergency room for treatment.
Dr Effendi treated Gabriel at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Centre and told Today that Axel had made a “massive” difference in the teenager’s recovery capability.
“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 paralysed on his right side for the rest of his life or unable to speak at all,” Dr Effendi said.
“Being found earlier because of the dog … that significantly improved his outcome.”
An angiogram revealed that the teenager endured a spontaneous left-sided stroke that caused weakness on the right side of his body.
In less than a week, the teenager made remarkable progress that stunned medical professionals, regaining much of his mobility, Ms Tanner wrote on Facebook.
“Our entire lives stopped in time for a bit and basically exploded. I saw these things in movies and testimonials but never thought I’d ever experience such a thing,” she wrote in the post.
Mr Silva was discharged around two weeks later, and almost two months after the incident, he is making great progress – undergoing speech therapy at the hospital as well as taking school classes from home.
He hopes to return to school with his classmates soon to enjoy the rest of the senior year.
Until then, Axel continues his heroic duties by constantly staying by the teenager’s side, following him everywhere, and even sleeping next to him in his bedroom.