Methodist Healthcare
January 26, 2021

Loyalty, companionship, resiliency – there are reasons why dogs are called a man's best friend. Each one is created with a unique personality and behavioral traits, though one commonality they all share is the willingness to provide their owners with unconditional love down to their very last breath. Fubu, a three-year-old rescue dog, ended up saving the life of his owner when she fell unconscious during a round of fetch, nearing her last breath.

One would say Fubu's favorite things in life are tennis balls, softballs, soccer balls…well, anything round. It was a beautiful, Texas winter afternoon, and Fubu's owner had the day off from work, so she decided to take him to the park to play some fetch. The park was unusually quiet, so Fubu was lucky enough to be freed from his leash to run around. She would kick the ball, and Fubu would return it. This went on for a while.

Fubu's owner stopped suddenly due to discomfort in her chest. She sat down and felt fatigued and short of breath, fearful she was having a panic attack. She thought it would pass and that she just needed to get home and relax. She gathered her keys and the water dish and was reaching to leash Fubu up. Suddenly, she got tunnel vision and the last thing she remembered were her knees hitting the ground and everything fading to black.

Fubu licked his owner's face consistently until she woke up. Unaware of how long it had been since she was unconscious, the only thing she could recognize was the fear on Fubu's face, almost relieved that his owner was okay. The severe pain in her chest continued, but she was able to access her phone to dial 9-1-1 for help and call her friend to come pick up Fubu. Within minutes both arrived at the park to provide her with aid.

“Fubu must have thought I was playing a joke on him or something. He probably thought his mom had taken a nap when we were playing,” she jokingly said.

Ambulance crews took her to an area hospital where she was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism, a blockage in one of the pulmonary arteries in the lungs. She was transferred to Methodist Hospital to receive expert care from the pulmonary embolism response team (PERT), a multidisciplinary team of physicians dedicated to providing the best available treatments for patients experiencing life-threatening pulmonary embolisms (PE).

This condition is a major cause of morbidity and mortality and presents with significant diagnostic and treatment challenges. While therapies for PE are available, the outcomes for high-risk patients who present with massive or high‐risk embolisms are dismal. Time is of the essence when sudden medical issues present themselves, and it is vital to the patient's outcome to seek the care of physicians trained to respond immediately.

“Some cases are simply miracles. This is one of those,” commented Paven Thangadu, MD, Intestivist at Methodist Hospital. “We, as the PERT team, were fortunate to be a part of a series of miraculous moments that led this patient to an incredible outcome. The goal of our PERT team is to enable many more moments such as this.”

Though common for pulmonary embolisms to be caused by blood clots that travel to the lungs from deep veins in the legs or from veins in other parts of the body (deep vein thrombosis), in this case, the cause of Fubu's owner's PE is believed to be from birth control. In some women, the estrogen in combination hormonal birth control can increase the risk of a blood clot in the legs or lungs.

Fubu's owner attributes her survival to her canine companion and said it was a true blessing that she was around her dog when she collapsed, otherwise she may not be alive today. “If it weren't for Fubu licking my face, I could have been passed out much longer, or maybe I would never have woken up at all from lack of oxygen,” she recalls. “Nobody was around to come make sure I was okay. If it weren't for him (Fubu) I may not be here. He saved my life!”

Fubu was in good hands while his owner was cared for at Methodist Hospital. While Fubu's owner may have rescued him from a shelter, Fubu will never know the impression he has made rescuing his owner from a near-fatal day at the park.

(Fubu's owner asked to remain anonymous for the sake of this story)