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Young heart transplant patient on the mend with dog's help

An 8-year-old New York boy is doing well after a heart transplant, and doctors say a therapy dog played a key role in his recovery
How Ralph the dog helped a heart transplant succeed 01:27

A New York boy is celebrating Valentine's Day with a new heart this year. And his doctors are giving a dog named Ralph some of the credit.

Eight-year-old Pablo Patino was born with congestive heart failure, and by last fall, his enlarged heart was deteriorating fast.

"There were times he was so sick he may not have survived, so it's amazing," Dr. Irene Lytrivi, a pediatric cardiologist at Kravis Children's Hospital at Mount Sinai, told CBS News.

Pablo received a heart transplant in November. But after surgery, doctors say he needed something more than just modern medicine. That's when Ralph stepped in. The dog helped distract Pablo from the pain and encouraged him to get up and move.

"He made me feel better, he made me do some exercise and walking," Pablo said.

"It was very important because he was more positive about trying to get through this, trying to get through his transplant, trying to get out of the hospital," said Lytrivi.

Pablo's family is convinced Ralph helped get their little boy back on his feet. He's now at home continuing his recovery and regularly attending physical therapy. His doctors say his prognosis is good.

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