Meet Pulmonary Rehab patient Megan Roberts and her service dog, Dove

Meet Pulmonary Rehab patient Megan Roberts and her service dog, Dove

Megan Roberts is not only the youngest patient in Huntsville Hospital’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation program – she’s also one of the most inspiring.

Whether she’s walking on a treadmill to get stronger or talking to our Center for Lung Health physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists, Megan, 21, always has an infectious smile and a can-do attitude.

Her positive approach to Pulmonary Rehab is remarkable when you consider Megan’s difficult medical journey.

Before she was old enough to drive, Megan was diagnosed with hereditary chronic pancreatitis with small ductile disease and GI tract paralysis – a painful condition that caused digestive problems and frequent bouts of nausea.

That led to major surgery to remove Megan’s pancreas, spleen, gall bladder, appendix and part of her small intestines. “I was just the 88th person under 20 to ever have that operation,” she said.

With solid food no longer an option, Megan gets all of her nutrition through an IV line.

And because her pancreas is gone, Megan’s body cannot produce insulin. She is on an insulin pump and has a service dog named Dove who alerts her when her blood sugar levels get out of whack. Dove, a gift from Make-A-Wish Foundation, is Megan’s constant companion and joins her for most Pulmonary Rehab appointments.

Just when things started to look up, Megan had another setback. In July 2017, she needed emergency open-heart surgery to remove dangerous blood clots that had formed in both pulmonary arteries.

Doctors were able to restore blood flow to her right lung but not the left, so she now gets winded easily climbing stairs or playing with Dove. With all of her health problems, she was forced to withdraw from classes at UAH.

Through the hospital’s Pulmonary Rehab program, Megan is working to improve her physical stamina and lung capacity under the supervision of our Center for Lung Health staff.

She approaches her medical issues with a sense of humor, showing up to exercise last week in a “Life without a pancreas is good!” T-shirt.

“Megan is a remarkable young lady who has exceeded our expectations for Pulmonary Rehab,” said Dr. Luther Corley, a Huntsville Hospital Lung Center pulmonologist.

Megan is feeling better lately and has enrolled in a veterinary assistant program at Calhoun Community College.

She has also become a passionate advocate for Make-a-Wish, which grants the wishes of children with critical illnesses. Megan is raising money for the organization by selling $1 silicone bracelets that say “Dove Loves Wishes.” You can find them on the wrists of most of our Center for Lung Health employees.

“I’m a wish kid and know that a wish is so powerful,” Megan said. “Dove is my wish come true and best friend.”