How a Puppy Helped a Transplant Patient's Recovery

January 15, 2009

NFT patient Michael Miller has been battling health issues since 1997. At 16 years old, he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which led to three transplants in 11 years. After his first transplant (cord blood) in 2001, complications from multiple infections took such a toll on his body that doctors were not sure he would make it.


Once he recovered, Michael's mother, Freda, decided she never wanted him to miss out on anything in life. Soon after, she bought him a Great Dane puppy, Marley. Having a playmate helped Michael keep a positive attitude and healthy lifestyle post-transplant.


Last year, Michael found out he needed another transplant, and they had to give Marley to a loving family nearby. Fortunately, he still gets to see Marley as often as he likes! After his pancreas and kidney transplants in 2008, Michael got another puppy, Reesie, who has been his constant companion.


"[Reesie] can look at Michael when he is feeling bad and totally make all the pain go away. Except when she makes him laugh so much that he has to hold his stomach!" Freda said.


Walks on the beach and endless rounds of fetch are just a couple of ways that Reesie makes sure Michael is constantly active.


"I would encourage anyone who has a love of animals to think about adding one to their family. They can be such a great comfort. When you're sick, they are always at your side and always happy to be with you-no matter how you feel," Freda told NFT.