The Doctors: Neuroendocrine Cell Hyperplasia of Infancy (NEHI)
The Doctors TV show shared the remarkable story of Alida and Mr. Gibbs.
When she was nine months old, Alida Knobloch was diagnosed with a rare lung disease called neuroendocrine cell hyperplasia of infancy (NEHI). This required her to be on oxygen 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Her parents, Aaron and Debbie, wondered how their little girl was going to manage a heavy oxygen tank with a seven foot cord. One night, they were watching TV and there was a show on about service dogs. Aaron knew he had found the answer.
The Drs: Dog Carries Oxygen Tank for Little Girl With NEHI
Aaron said that first play date between Alida and Mr. Gibbs was full of giggles. Alida said that Mr. Gibbs is her best friend. Debbie said they told Alida from day one that Mr. Gibbs’ job was to carry her oxygen tank and she was very excited.
Debbie said that with Mr. Gibbs, Alida can lead a fairly normal life. She can play in the backyard and play in the playground without Debbie having to be right there. Mr. Gibbs, who is a two-year-old Goldendoodle, wears a service vest to carry the oxygen.
The Drs TV: Alida and Mr. Gibbs
Dr. Travis Stork said that he doesn’t think he’s ever seen the kind of love between Alida and Mr. Gibbs. Aaron said they got Mr. Gibbs back in February and they had to work with him every day to show him what his job is.
Aaron said that Alida and Mr. Gibbs have built their bond through play. Debbie said Mr. Gibbs’ trainer would come over and everyone would just play.
The Doctors: What is NEHI?
Dr. Stork said that normally, a child will breathe in air and then breathe out 75% of it. Kids with NEHI only breathe out 60%, which only makes room for 60% more air. Kids with NEHI have low oxygen levels and trouble gaining weight.
Mr. Gibbs is the only way that Alida is able to have independence. NEHI expert Dr. Robin Deterding called in to explain more about Alida’s condition. Dr. Deterding said only 300-400 kids worldwide have NEHI.
The Drs: NEHI Cure?
Dr. Deterding said kids with NEHI don’t cough or wheeze like with asthma, but they do breathe very fast. Usually they discover the NEHI when the child is less than a year old.
She said over time, the condition can slowly improve, but it takes a long time. The average is about six years to be removed from oxygen, at least at night. Luckily, no one has ever died from NEHI.
Dr. Deterding said that right now there is no cure and they’re still trying to find a better treatment and understand the condition more.
The Drs TV: The chILD Foundation for Interstitial Lung Diseases
Aaron talked about the chILD Foundation, which provides treatment information and a list of doctors for children with lung diseases. He said that there are only 18 doctors in the United States that specialize in NEHI.
There are about 30 interstitial lung disease and the chILD Foundation helps them all. You can make a donation to NEHI research through the chILD Foundation’s website.
Dr. Stork said that he knows traveling isn’t always easy for their family, and he sent them home with an airline approved continuous flow oxygen tank. Check out Alida and Mr. Gibbs’ amazing bond in the video below.