WATCH: Doctors let dog stay with little girl during surgery

Posted at 7:34 AM, Dec 20, 2013

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) - Seven-year-old Kaelyn Krawczyk, friends call her KK,  and her service dog JJ share an inseparable bond. So much so, doctors in North Carolina let JJ stay with KK during her recent surgery.

Kaelyn suffers form mast cell activation disorder.

"She can have reactions that range form mild to life-threatening anaphylaxis," Kaelyn mother Michelle Krawczyk said. "Reactions can be from triggers such as mild as she's too tired, fatigued, stressed, foods, chemicals, medications, exercise."

Another thing that triggers attacks is the anesthetic used during her treatments. Her service dog JJ helps with that.

"JJ is very sensitive and often can tell us that KK is having a reaction or starting to have a reaction before we see any clinical symptoms," Michelle said. "She's actually alerted before monitors have been able to catch her reactions."

That is what convinced Duke Hospital to allow JJ inside a special procedure room during KK's latest operation.

"If I didn't believe in it I guess I wouldn't have asked that JJ come with us today, and provide that extra warning, we don't want to wait till KK has a problem to treat it; we want all the warning we can have to make sure we can keep her safe," Pediatric Anesthesiologist Dr. Brad Taicher said.

JJ is trained to detect the scent KK gives off shortly before one of her episodes.

"We can sleep at night, which we didn't do well before because we always worried she'd have a reaction she didn't wake up from," Michelle said. "Now we know JJ can take care of her and JJ will let us know if something is not right."

Doctors at Duke said they would consider allowing more dogs in the operating room -- under the right circumstances. KK's surgery was relatively minor, so the risk of infection from having JJ in the room was very low, doctors said.