Dubai’s 'first heart surgery for dogs' saves puppy’s life

Sahim Salim/Dubai
Filed on June 3, 2021
Supplied photo

Weighing 4.8kg, Holly suffered from a serious congenital heart defect

An eight-month-old Pomeranian puppy has got a new lease of life after undergoing what is being called Dubai’s first patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) heart surgery.

Weighing 4.8kg, Holly was suffering from a serious congenital heart defect. A team of five veterinary surgeons at Modern Vet – a Dubai-based veterinarian hospital — completed the surgery on a heart the size of a golf ball.

Among the happiest at Holly’s life-saving surgery is his human companion Harry, who suffers from a movement disorder.

Alana Kay, Harry’s mother, said he is very attached to Holly and the surgery and its success mean a lot to him. “Holly and Harry are inseparable and she needs to make it to help Harry recover, too,” said Kay.

Holly and her family will be relocating to the U.K. once she has fully recovered from the surgery.

If left untreated, PDA develops into congestive heart failure, which in simple terms, means that fluid would begin to fill the lungs.

The two-hour surgery saw a doctor manually ventilating the patient.

Dr. Cristina Epifanio, a neuro specialist, explained: “In the case of our patient, this type of ventilation was necessary because during surgery, as the thorax is open, the pressure exerted on the lungs from the outside is such that they cannot overcome the resistance and ventilate on their own. That is why we must do it for them so that the patient can be oxygenated and perfused throughout the procedure.”

Dr Silvério Moniz, a soft tissue specialist surgeon, said Holly would now live a normal life.

Dr Joao Figueira, an orthopaedics and soft tissue surgeon, said: “Although this was a complex surgery, I am glad that Holly can now have a great and healthy life.”

Dr Jose Botte, a veterinary cardiology specialist, stressed the importance of early screening for all pets. “If Holly's heart murmur hadn't been detected in a timely fashion, she may have lost the chance to be saved by this procedure. Also, (it is) important to stress that all heart murmurs should be referred to an experienced veterinary cardiologist to be adequately diagnosed, only then can we say … what treatment may be required to address it.”

The first surgical correction of PDA in humans was performed in 1938. Less than two decades later, Dr Willis Potts was the first to perform the same surgery on a dog.

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