A young boy with type 1 diabetes saved pennies for four years to raise enough money to buy his very own diabetes alert dog.
Aiden Heath, aged eight, was diagnosed four years ago and soon learned about how dogs can help identify drops in blood glucose levels.
British research has shown that dogs can be trained to detect blood sugar from the smell in the breath and urine of humans, as well as fetching hypo treatment kits in response.
In the UK, the charity Medical Detection Dogs helps to change the lives of people with diabetes who struggle with hypo awareness. It does not receive any government funding and the waiting list for a medical alert dog is currently four years.
Aiden and his family live in Vermont, US where the cost of a service dog is $15,000, so Aiden’s mother, Jenni, encouraged him to save, one penny at a time.
Aiden saved for four years, and kept his pennies in a small red wagon that he called “Brinks”.
In April, Aiden’s story received regional news coverage, and having already raised $6,000 Aiden’s family soon received donations of more than $20,000, enabling them to put a down payment on a dog in Nevada.
Aiden’s new dog, Angel (pictured together), is a chocolate Labrador that had been trained from April and recently passed all the criteria to become a diabetic alert dog. Before meeting Angel, Aiden and Jenni had followed her progress with videos and pictures.
On Monday, Aiden finally met Angel when he arrived at the Heaths’ home.
“Aiden looked at me and said, ‘This is a dream,'” Jenni told ABC News. “He was on pins and needles waiting for her. He is over the moon.
“We have been so amazed by the outpouring of support. He is feeling the love. There are no words.”
Jenni added that Angel will provide her with peace of mind when it came to testing Aiden’s blood glucose levels, particularly at night, and help Aiden gain a sense of independence.
Picture: ABC News