He has also alerted her to a coming seizure or black out more than 300 times in six months. Archie is a specially trained medical alert dog, and has been provided to Miss Purcell by the Medical Detection Dogs charity because of the seriousness of her condition.
She has Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, also known as ‘PoTS’, which has caused her to suffer black outs and seizures since birth.
Archie, a black Labrador retriever, is able to detect episodes before they happen through an odour that is emitted by the body when chemical changes occur.
Before receiving Archie, Miss Purcell, who works at Pinderfields Hospital as a patient service manager for elderly medicine, had tried having a pacemaker fitted and numerous treatments without success. She’d also had to have a series of operations after injuring herself firing an episode.
Now, when Archie senses the start of an episode he immediately gets Miss Purcell’s attention, to provide her with a two-to-three minute warning before her episode occurs. She is then able to lie down flat on the floor until he episode is over, whilst Archie sits by her side.
Archie is one of just three dogs in the country trained to alert their owner of PoTS episodes, and has been nominated in the Daily Mirror Animal Heroes Awards.
Her new-found confidence at dealing with episodes has led Miss Purcell, 25, of Wakefield, to train hard for triathlons - without the fear of an unexpected seizure or black out.
She said: “Having Archie with me has massively improved my quality of life. I’m no longer worried about my episodes as Archie gives me the re-assurance that I can control the severity of them.
“He’s given me the confidence and independence to get on with my everyday life and has helped my episodes become more manageable. He comes everywhere with me and particularly enjoys coming with me when I go training for the triathlons and swimming.”
Miss Purcell and Archie are hoping to take part in a triathlon in North Yorkshire this September to raise money for the Medical Detection Dogs charity,
Its director of operations, Dr Claire Guest, said: “Since the charity was formed in 2008 we have placed over 75 medical alert assistance.
“We are delighted to have been able to support Katie and to see the difference that Archie has made to her life.”