Karin Hostetter

Lampeter-Strasburg High School junior Karin Hostetter puts on her oxygen before starting her workout at Universal Athletic Club Monday, April 22, 2019. Hostetter was a three-sport student-athlete until recently being diagnosed with Interstitial Lung Disease.

Karin Hostetter had been accustomed to remote learning by the time the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools in mid-March. About a year had already passed since a lung disease forced her to transition to cyberschool to complete her classwork as a student at Lampeter-Strasburg High School.

“I was used to it,” she said recently. “I had actually gotten worse in the fall going into the winter.  I started having episodes where I’d randomly start shaking. My oxygen would drop so low that I wouldn’t feel well at all.”

A former three-sport student-athlete at L-S, Hostetter was diagnosed with Children’s Interstitial Lung Disease in June 2017. The disease took away her athletic career and ability to attend classes in person. It also made completing classwork challenging, as the lack of oxygen can sometimes result in what she describes as “fog brain.”

Hostetter pushed through those difficulties en route to graduating from L-S last month.

“I’m planning on going to (Harrisburg Area Community College) for my gen-eds,” she said. “I want to major in psychology. I’m taking things slow because my health is up in the air.”

The disease is a result of scarring on the lungs, which then have difficulty in supplying oxygen to the body. Hostetter’s large team of pulmonologists, nurse practitioners, physical therapists, registered dietitians, social workers and other nurses at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia still haven’t been able to pinpoint what caused the scarring. But various tests have pointed to her condition having stabilized as of late.

“I don’t feel stable, though,” she said.

For instance, she tires easily when at home folding laundry or showering. Her health is also more at risk than others in pandemic because the virus attacks the lungs. So Hostetter and her family are taking extra precautions in order to avoid getting sick.

It’s why Hostetter feels she is now in need of a medical alert service dog, which could be trained to alert her when her oxygen level drops, similar to what other medical alert service dogs are able to do for people with diabetes in monitoring sugar levels.

“So that will help a lot in case I pass out or something like that,” Hostetter said. “Or if I feel a bit wobbly it would help me out. ... I have been close to passing out but have never gotten to that point. It’s very scary.”

However, the cost to obtain a medical alert service dog comes with a hefty price tag because of the specific training required. It’s why Hostetter has launched a Go Fund Me page in an effort to raise $30,000. She is already about a quarter of the way toward that goal since launching the page June 6.

“A couple months ago, I was at a point where doctors were out of medications and things they can give me to try to help,” she said. “Maybe this is a time where a dog would benefit my health. It would be there to support me when everyone else isn’t sure what to do with me.”

If interested in donating, visit gofundme.com/f/a-medical-alert-service-dog-for-karin.


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