By Mike Gregory
Five-year-old Lila Jeffries enjoys synchronized and competitive swimming and this past summer even attempted her first triathlon.
But all of these activities that make the Kindergartner at Ladysmith Primary smile are becoming increasingly difficult to manage because of her Type 1 diabetes.
In April 2015 mother Alexis took her daughter to see a doctor regarding a bad cough when it was discovered the girl’s blood sugar levels were five times higher than normal.
“They thought they caught it early but she went down quite fast,” said Alexis as her daughter sits quietly at The 49th Cafe.
“It’s one of those things where it’s an autoimmune disease and when the switch is flicked there’s no going back.”
Attached to the child’s midsection, but tucked away out of site under her T-shirt, are two devices that monitors her glucose levels and deliver the appropriate dosage of insulin as required.
The Jeffries family is now hoping to raise the $20,000 required for Lila to have a diabetic alert dog to help ease stress and allow her to live a more normal life.
“She is very unaware of how she’s feeling to the point where she’s been close to passing out and is running around the house,” Alexis said
The glucose monitor Lila currently wears beeps when she is having a low or high.
On top of that, her finger is pricked up to 10 times a day to check her blood sugar.
“We don’t sleep. We usually get up once or twice a night,” said Alexis.
A diabetic alert dog can detect trends in blood sugar up to 45 minutes ahead of time by smelling if Lila is acidic or fruity.
“It will help alert her more quickly. It will paw her if it senses a low or high,” Alexis said.
The dog would also be able to accompany Lila to school which would help alleviate some of the pressure on her teachers.
The Jeffries’ have placed a $3,400 deposit on a dog which, once matched, will be trained for six to eight weeks in Nevada using sample of Lila’s saliva.
The Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides doesn’t allow handlers to be under 10 years old.
““It would give us peace of mind, and it helps gain independence for her over time too to be able to go somewhere without mom and dad,” Alexis said.
Anyone interested in donating can go to https://www.gofundme.com/a-dog-for-lila-2ubrv6k, or visit the Ladysmith & District Credit Union and provide the account #1002167.