PRINCE GEORGE COUNTY, Va. -- Sixteen year old Gabby Boiteau has lived with health scares since she was in second grade, she underwent her first medical procedure in sixth grade and had a pacemaker by ninth. She knows that every year she gets older, she may get another heart problem.
"I still have times where I feel my pacemaker work, when my heart is stopping" she says.
Besides a heart condition, Gabby has other medical issues.
"My body hates gravity," says the Prince George County High School tenth grader. "When I stand up my blood goes to my feet and my heart starts beating faster and faster and faster to get the blood back to my brain. But it doesn't get back to my brain so I have no oxygen, so I pass out."
Gabby has spent time at Duke, the Mayo Clinic and VCU Medical Center but doctors still aren't sure what is happening with her heart.
Early on both she and her mother were scared.
"My mom was scared at night that if she came to wake me up in the morning and I wasn't here, I wasn't alive; that was scary."
The pacemaker has alleviated some fears but depression is real for the teen, who often misses school and said that when she is there her peers taunt her.
But in February, the birth of a furry little puppy, already named Murphy Rae, could turn things around.
"Murphy is not just a dog to Gabby," Susan Steward said, who is coordinating a $25,000 fundraiser. "He is a reason to give her hope again."
The lab will become a service dog for Gabby,and it will be able to pick up items she drops and hand them back, but importantly, it will be attuned to her health issues.
"When I pass out, he'll be able to get underneath my legs and lift my legs up to get the blood back to my brain and my heart, to make me wake up faster."
And Murphy Rae will be able to apply deep pressure therapy.
"I deal with a lot of anxiety because of all these health problems and Murphy Rae will be able to do DPT, to calm me down".
But Steward knows the money needed to train the puppy as it grows into a dog will come at quite an expense for Gabby's Mom.
"I would like to raise enough money that nothing has to come out of their pocket for Murphy Rae," Steward said.
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