Medical Detection Dogs Lifeline


Medical Detection Dogs

An appeal on behalf of the charity Medical Detection Dogs, which has identified in dogs an incredible ability to sniff out human health conditions.


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For some people, like Archie,

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a medical emergency is only ever minutes away.

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He's eight and has a severe form of diabetes.

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Soon after he was born, his blood sugar levels started to spike

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and drop with no warning symptoms.

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Anything could happen at any time and within seconds.

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It wasn't even minutes.

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Either one of us would stay up all night,

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or we would both take it in shifts

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so that we'd be checking him every hour.

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We would go to sleep and it would be the morning

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and we would be too scared to go into his bedroom

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because of the fear that he may not be alive.

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Archie's family was almost at breaking point

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when they found a charity that changed their lives

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by giving them a very surprising way

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to monitor his blood sugar levels.

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The solution was a dog.

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Now, dogs have an astonishing sense of smell -

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around 100,000 times stronger than our own - and this charity,

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Medical Detection Dogs, have harnessed that extraordinary ability

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and trained dogs to alert people to changes in their medical condition.

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This is Domino.

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He's been with Archie's family for over a year

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and takes some of the stress out of their lives

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by checking on Archie's sugar levels.

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When he jumped up at Mum, it was a sign of an alert,

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so what I'm going to do now is I'm going to prick...

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Domino will sleep beside Archie by his bed

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and if Archie's actually going out of his blood sugar range,

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Domino wakes us up to actually check Archie.

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I'm not sure where we'd be without Medical Detection Dogs right now.

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Our little boy went from not wanting to talk to anybody

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to going to all sorts of different after-school clubs,

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running around being a little cheeky monster.

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Archie feels he actually is normal now and I couldn't give that to him

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and I so wanted to, but they did.

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This is the Medical Detection Dogs office.

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I think it's my favourite office in the country

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and I think there are more dogs that work here than people.

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Now, the charity have managed to place over 60 dogs

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with people with chronic conditions all over the country,

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but that's not all they do, and if you donate,

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you will be helping to fund some pioneering research,

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because what they've discovered is that these dogs are able

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to pick up on conditions that haven't yet been diagnosed.

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Working with a local hospital, the charity is training dogs

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to sniff out urine samples positive for prostate cancer.

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Indication?

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-Correct.

-Isn't that just extraordinary?

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When I first came here last year to see these dogs working,

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I was amazed by how quickly and accurately

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they can pick up a positive sample.

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Well done, Kiwi!

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Prostate cancer detection rates have trebled since 1980,

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partly due to a widely-used blood test that diagnoses the disease.

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However, this test sometimes falsely raises suspicion of cancer

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where there is none, leading to unnecessary invasive biopsies

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and it can also miss some aggressive cancers.

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Prostate cancer still claims the lives of 11,000 people a year.

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Iqbal Anjum is a consultant neurologist.

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His research team is collaborating with Medical Detection Dogs

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on a study aimed at developing a new way of testing for the disease.

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Phase one is proving that dogs can do it with good confidence level.

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In 96% of patients where there is cancer, they pick up the cancer.

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This is the excitement.

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That information can be utilised in future

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to isolate special chemicals which can be globally used

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to diagnose and facilitate prostate cancer treatment.

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The ideal testing system would be like a pregnancy test.

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If we were to develop such a simple, non-invasive test

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which was less time consuming, that would simply be perfect.

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This ground-breaking research relies entirely

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on the charity's 15 detection dogs.

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They don't live at the training centre.

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Instead, they have homes to go back to.

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Pauline runs a local garden centre and fosters Kiwi.

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I wanted to know what goes into looking after a detection dog.

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-Sit down.

-Oh, she's beautifully behaved, Pauline.

-Settle, settle.

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So, how did you first come across Medical Detection Dogs?

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Well, I'd just got over cancer treatment myself

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and there's an article in our local paper

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from Medical Detection Dogs wanting volunteers.

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We came up to their open day and we said, "We've got to help."

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This is an incredible charity,

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so for the last three and a half years,

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I've been helping out doing fostering work.

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Do you think she enjoys this life, enjoys the work?

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I'm sure she must do, because when we come in in the morning,

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in she goes, tail wagging, and it's like having a child,

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like doing the school run with the dog.

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Kiwi's work is helping to improve

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the accuracy of prostate cancer diagnosis

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and could reduce the amount of avoidable invasive testing.

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47-year-old Lee has volunteered to help with the charity's work, too.

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My dad, who was 82 at the time,

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was tested positive for prostate cancer,

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which prompted me and my brothers to have a blood test.

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My brother and I were both found to be positive.

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We thought, "Oh, well."

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The next stage of the full diagnosis was a prostate biopsy.

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It is very unpleasant,

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something that I definitely don't want to do again.

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Before starting treatment, Lee got in touch with the charity

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and offered a urine sample known to be positive for prostate cancer.

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The mere thought of being able to let other people

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have early diagnoses in the future is a fantastic thing

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and I'm really glad I could contribute something towards that,

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however small.

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If it's successful, the research using these cancer detection dogs

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will mean more reliable testing and that will save thousands of lives.

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But the charity does need your support to continue training

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these miraculous dogs and exploring new ways of detecting disease,

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and not just prostate cancer.

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The charity is looking into how dogs can detect breast cancer

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and is also researching Parkinson's disease.

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Now, dog owners like me know

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what loyal and wonderful companions they are,

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but these dogs are so much more.

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Whilst I've had Domino,

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he's been a life-saver, really.

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Although he looks much like a normal dog, he just isn't.

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These dogs, this charity are doing something extraordinary -

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pioneering work that changes lives like Archie's,

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but could also save lives, too.

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But the research and the training of dogs like Daisy doesn't come cheap

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and you could make all the difference.

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So, go on, dig behind your sofa cushions, raid the piggy bank,

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reach for the credit card and give what you can

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to Medical Detection Dogs and I promise you, every penny you donate

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will be very, very well spent indeed.

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Won't it, Daisy?

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To give by phone, call...

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Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.

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Texts cost £10 plus your standard network message charge

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and the whole £10 goes to Medical Detection Dogs.

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For full terms and conditions or to make a donation online,

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visit the Lifeline website.

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Or if you'd like to post a donation,

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please make your cheque payable

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to Medical Detection Dogs

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and send it to...

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..writing Medical Detection Dogs

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on the back of the envelope.

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Thank you.

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Kate Humble presents an appeal on behalf of the charity Medical Detection Dogs, which has identified in dogs an incredible ability to sniff out human health conditions, including cancer.

Archie is eight and has severe diabetes. Since he was born, his blood sugar levels have fluctuated without warning, leaving his parents exhausted from constant monitoring and terrified he might not survive the night.

But thanks to Medical Detection Dogs, they now have a dog trained to alert them to changes in Archie's breath that show he needs his blood sugar levels checked. Domino has given Archie the chance to feel like a normal little boy.

Kate also watches in amazement as a labrador called Kiwi correctly picks out urine samples positive for prostate cancer. If it is successful, research by Medical Detection Dogs could help experts to develop a cheap, non-invasive test for prostate cancer that could revolutionise the science of diagnosis.