Dog alerts family, saves Texas teenager from life-threatening stroke: ‘Keeping guard’

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A teenage boy in Spring, Texas, may owe his life to the family dog, who saved him from a potentially deadly stroke.

Gabriel Silva, 17, was a healthy soccer player with no signs or symptoms of any medical problems when he experienced a dissection of the artery — when the inside wall of an artery gets torn — on Aug 26.

Early that morning, the family’s border collie, Axel, woke up Silva’s mother and stepfather, Amanda and Daines Tanner, by jumping on their bed at around 5 a.m.

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“He was pretty agitated and excited,” Amanda Tanner told Fox News Digital during a phone interview. 

“He had both paws on my chest, kind of like he was making sure I was awake and to alert me to whatever was happening downstairs.”

Gabriel Silva, 17, may owe his life to the family dog, Axel, who saved him from a potentially deadly stroke. (Amanda Tanner)

When her husband took the dog downstairs, assuming he had to go outside, Axel led him toward their 17-year-old’s bedroom instead.

That’s where he found their son, who was trying to communicate that something was wrong. Yet his speech was slurred, his vision was impaired, and he couldn’t walk or feel his right side — telltale signs of a stroke.

“When my husband tried to get Gabriel to grip his hand, he couldn’t do it,” she said.

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The only symptom of a stroke that the teen didn’t have was facial drooping — “but that could have been because it was still early in the stroke and it hadn’t progressed to that level yet,” Tanner said.

Silva’s parents brought him to the closest emergency room, where doctors immediately began treating him with blood thinners. Following that came a battery of tests and scans. 

Silva was then transferred to Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, where an angiogram revealed that the teen had experienced a dissection of the artery.

“That normally happens through trauma, like a car accident, but in Gabriel’s case it was spontaneous,” Tanner told Fox News Digital. 

“There was no explanation. It just happened.”

“There was no clot, no cholesterol issue. They did a thorough battery of tests to find the root cause, and there was no explanation. It just happened.”

Following the diagnosis, Silva’s artery had to be given a chance to reconnect. The blood thinners helped to reduce the potential of further damage, Tanner said — “but the damage that was done is done.”

The stroke had mainly affected the communication center in Silva’s brain, which impacted speech. He also was unable to walk at first, due to losing control of his right side.

Once the doctors determined that Silva wasn’t at risk of a continued or recurring stroke, the teen began therapy sessions to try and regain as much functionality as quickly as possible.

“I would cry when the nurses would come in and ask him to say his name, and he couldn’t do it.”

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