LEHI — Eight-year-old Hannah Guymon recently received a life-changing diagnosis.
On Sept. 25, doctors told her she has Type 1 diabetes. She’s taking the diagnosis in stride and learned that a diabetic alert dog could help her control her diabetes and may even save her life.
It’s a pricey option that her family says will bring peace of mind.
Type 1 diabetes, formerly known as juvenile diabetes, means the body does not produce insulin. According to the American Diabetes Association, only 5 percent of people with diabetes have this form of the disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25.8 million children and adults in the U.S. have diabetes. Approximately 215,000 people with diabetes are under the age of 20.
With proper monitoring and the help of insulin therapy, diet and exercise, people with Type 1 diabetes can live long, healthy lives, according to the American Diabetes Association.
Monitoring blood glucose levels is important to keep diabetes in check. Hannah has hers checked five to seven times a day.
Blood sugars too low or too high can lead to serious complications, such as glaucoma and cataracts, neuropathy, hypertension and even death if not managed properly.
"I'm scared in the night (that) my blood sugar is going to drop,” Hannah said.
Being frightened in the night motivated her to do some research. That's when she found out about diabetic alert dogs.
"It sleeps with you,” Hannah said. “If your blood sugar is too low or too high, it wakes you up.”
It would be a constant companion, specifically trained to smell changes in her saliva. But that peace of mind comes with a price tag, about $15,000, and insurance doesn't cover it. So Hannah came up with a plan.
"We are making butter brownies,” she said. “It says it makes 24 of them, so we might need to make 10 batches or something.”
It’s a no-nonsense resolve to raise the necessary funds for the special dog.
"The dog would mean an extra layer of protection,” said Heather Guymon, Hannah’s mother.
Training the dog is a 10-month process. Hannah would need to send in saliva samples monthly and have several one-on-one trainings with the dog.
The family has set up a fundraising page at YouCaring.com.
Heather Guymon said she knows it's going to take a lot more than brownies to reach their goal, but she's willing to try.
"I would move heaven and Earth for her," she said.
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company