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Tag: surgery

Maya’s wait pays off

An Akita named Maya has become an Internet sensation after spending six days waiting at the door of a hospital in Spain for her owner to recover from surgery.

Maya was traveling home from a vacation with her owner Sandra Iniesta, 22, and Iniesta’s father, Andres Iniesta, when Sandra had to be hospitalized to have her appendix removed.

The 2-year-old Akita Inu stationed herself in front of Elda Hospital, near Alicante, and remained there until, six days later, Sandra was released.

mayafacebookAt one point Sandra’s father tried to load Maya in the car and take her home.

Maya refused to budge.

Hospital staff and others brought her food during her wait.

“I think she knows what is happening and she is showing that she can be patient,” Andres Iniesta told the newspaper, Información.

The hospital put a post about Maya and her vigil on its Facebook page, and word spread from there. People started dropping by to visit her, take her photo and bring her gifts.

“She is just doing what she does in Barcelona,” Sandra later wrote on Twitter, after her release. “Whenever I go inside some place or another, she waits for me at the door.”

The loyalty of the Akita is the stuff of legends, the most famous being the Japanese dog Hachiko, who, after his owner died of a stroke at his office, continued to go to the train station to wait for him for 10 years.

(Photo: Facebook)

Company seeks to put synthetic dogs in every veterinary school in the world


A Florida company that makes synthetic humans for medical training has branched out to synthetic dogs — and it says it’s hoping to place packs of them in every veterinary school in the world.

If successful, SynDaver Labs says, the mission would save thousands of animals by preventing shelter dogs from being used in veterinary training.

SynDaver — a combination of words synthetic and cadaver — wants to raise $24 million to give 20 synthetic dogs to every accredited veterinary medicine college in the world. It says the schools will receive the artificial canines for free.

The company worked with the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine to develop the synthetic canine, which has a full list of functioning bodily systems, including a heartbeat and a circulatory system. It even bleeds when cut.

Speaking of bodily fluids, fans of the television show “Shark Tank,” may remember the company’s founder, Christopher Sakezles, appearing on an episode last year. Despite sweating profusely — unlike any of the sharks — he managed to persuade one investor to contribute $3 million to his company, in exchange for 25 percent ownership.

The deal later fell through, when Sakezles and investor Robert Herjavec disagreed over specifics. Conjecture is Herjavec wanted to replace the company owner with a new CEO, who would be a more profit focused than Sakezles.

That was last year. This year, the company has announced it will seek backers for the veterinary school program, according to WFLA.

syndaver2Currently, according to SynDaver, vet students learn surgical skills by practicing on live shelter animals. The animals are then euthanized.

“The product will immediately end the need for terminal surgery labs in veterinary medical schools and represents the beginning of the end of animal testing in general,” the company said.

The synthetic dogs have the capability to simulate customized diseases, illnesses and medical complications, the company says.

If more than $24 million is raised, SynDaver says it will start creating a synthetic cat, followed by a horse and cow.

The Tampa Bay Times described SynDaver as a small player in the $2 billion medical simulation industry, with about 150 employees split between offices in Tampa and Phoenix.

(Photos: SynDaver Labs)

Ace is home, and I’m ready for 62


Call it an early birthday present — Ace is home and doing remarkably well.

After surgery to remove his bladder stones, and an overnight stay at the animal hospital, I picked him up yesterday evening.

I was warned he could be leaky for a few days, and that his pee could contain blood — much like that I’m still scrubbing out of my living room carpet from the morning before surgery — but, sequestered in the kitchen, he made it through the night.

When I let him out this morning (after relieving myself, it should be noted), he walked down the stairs, did his business, and came back to lay down on the front porch, just as he normally does.

All of which leads me to marvel, yet again, about what a stoic and resilient beast he is — far more so than I.

I turn 62 tomorrow and, believe it or not, I am happy to do that. I am happy for my year as a 61-year-old to be over. It included, in this order, quintuple bypass surgery for me, the death of my father, and the death of my mother.

When Ace became completely blocked up this week by what X-rays showed was a horrific number of bladder stones, and the veterinarian recommended, even with some risks, immediate surgery, I balked.

Might it be possible, I asked, to wait until after Sept. 5? My 61st year has been a particularly accursed one, I explained, and I don’t want to give it one last chance to hurt me.

Between saying it out loud, and the look on my vet’s face, I realized I was being ridiculous. Tomorrow is fine, I agreed. That was Tuesday.

stones 001Thursday, Ace was home, having emitted just one tiny whimper on the drive. On my ride home from the hospital, after heart surgery, I emitted a dozen whimpers, six grunts, four goddammits, and more than a few dirty looks at my brother for hitting bumps.

During the night, I heard Ace moan once. I, due to back problems, probably moaned 10 times last night.

I took three months to recover from my surgery; Ace looks like he is going to take about three days.

True, they were different kinds of surgeries. True, Ace is on pain pills, more than I would ever be permitted. Ace was prescribed Tramadol — and is to be given eight 50-milligram pills a day. My doctor, who prescribed the same for my back pain, at the same dosage, says I can only take two.

Still, on the one-to-ten scale of stoicism, Ace rates at least a nine, while I can barely eke out a two.

Ace — in his early 80s, if you compute his age in human years — is handling old-man-hood much better than I am.

He didn’t like being sequestered in the kitchen. He prefers following me from room to room and keeping me in sight. But he put up with it, and with no leakage or accidents the barriers have already been lifted, at least during daytime hours.

He is mostly sleeping, and mostly sleeping with his eyes wide open, which I’ve never been able to figure out how he does.

stones 007In addition to the drugs, and a bill for more than $2,000, the vet gave me what he said was just a small “sampling” of what was taken out of Ace.

There were hundreds of little stones, enough to make a nice bracelet, should there be a jewelry maker out there who is interested in — and not too grossed out by — taking on the job.

I also brought home a dog without the monstrous front claws Ace used to have. I’ve written before about our efforts to control those. Since Ace was going to be under anesthesia anyway, I requested he be given a pedicure. In retrospect, given the vet spent hours meticulously removing all the stones from Ace’s bladder, I feel a little guilty about that.

On the other hand, it symbolizes the fresh start that I hope comes for both of us when I turn 62 tomorrow.

He, with his bladder purged of rocky deposits, and his claws at a reasonable length. Me, with a still-ticking heart, my favorite season virtually upon us and, most importantly, my dog back at my side.

With his bladder getting badder, Ace goes under the knife for removal of stones

????????(Updates can be found at the end of this post)

This is a mostly selfish post — aimed at getting all of Ace’s friends and fans to think positive thoughts today as he goes under surgery for bladder stones.

Yes, they are back.

Never really went away, apparently, since his last X-ray a couple of months ago —  despite the obscenely-priced special dog food I kept him on for a couple of months.

Instead, they’ve only increased — to the point where it now appears a good portion of the real estate in his bladder is occupied by them.

After his catheterization in May, everything  appeared, on the outside, to be fine.  Things were flowing nicely. But over the weekend, his urine stream slowed to a dribble, like a coffee maker, and he was, while otherwise in good spirits, straining to pee.

On Sunday I took him to an emergency vet. They were getting ready to catheterize him, when he peed on his own and passed a stone.

By Tuesday though, his stream had slowed to a drip again, and he was lethargic. I took him to his regular vet, where X-rays showed stones filling his bladder and cluttering his urethra — so many that surgery appeared the only choice.

They catheterized him again and sent him home with me for the night before returning him for surgery this morning.

This morning, Ace, who is 10, woke me up early, with the clicking of his claws on the hardwood floor as he trotted from room to room, as he does when he needs to go out. This time he was dripping blood, or bloody urine, in every room of the house.

He eagerly hopped in the car for the trip to the vet, but balked a little about going inside. Either he knew something was up, or didn’t want to face another catheterization. He balked again when it came time to say goodbye and walk off with the vet tech.

Now I am back home, cleaning up blood and waiting for the phone call. The vet’s biggest concern is the stones that may or may not remain in his urethra after yesterday’s catheterization — the urethra, in boy dogs, being a circuitous tube that is prone to problems. He hopes to be able to flush any of those out without having to slice into that area.

Those are the gory details.

Here’s what you can do. Send some positive vibes our way, as many of you have before when my aging dog or my aging self have faced medical uncertainties. I, in exchange, will keep you posted.

No need to write. No need to call. Just think a good thought. I’m not sure I telepathically receive those, but I’m pretty sure Ace does.

Update 1: Ace is out of surgery, which his vet described as the most difficult such operation he has done in his career, due to the amount of stones, particularly those in Ace’s urethra. He managed to clear them all out. Ace is still under the influence of general anesthesia, and it’s not clear yet whether he will be coming home tonight. We’ll be making that call in a couple of hours. Deepest thanks to Dr. Raymond Morrison at Ard-Vista Animal Hospital, to all those who commented here and on my Facebook page, and everyone else who has kept my big ol’ dog in their thoughts.

Update 2: Ace isn’t getting up and around, so he’ll be staying at the animal hospital tonight. Plans are to pick him up tomorrow.

Update 3: Ace is still at the animal hospital, as of Thursday. Vets say they want to monitor him throughout the day, but that I can pick him up this evening.

Dog who went to the vet for teeth cleaning gets unnecessary spay surgery instead

A Jack Russell terrier who was taken to a Utah vet to get her teeth cleaned ended up getting what would have been spay surgery — had she not already been spayed.

“Somewhere along the line maybe we made a mistake,” Terry Emmons, the owner of Heartsong Clinic in Clearfield admitted in an interview with KSL.

Ya think?

Maria Jones of Utah County took her 4-year-old Jack Russell, Pepper to the clinic last week after calling earlier to schedule a teeth cleaning.

“That’s what I wanted. That’s what she needed,” Jones said.

But somehow, on the intake form for Pepper, the spay box was checked.

“She signed the paperwork and we took the dog back,” Emmons said.

“The doctor went in to spay her and the parts that you take out … weren’t there.”

Jones said she doesn’t know how that box got checked. She remembers seeing the checked box on the form, but says she assumed it was checked because Pepper had been spayed in the past.

Whether the mix-up occurred when Jones booked the appointment, or upon checking in, isn’t clear.

Said Emmons, “I’m not sure it was our error, but at least somewhere along the line, maybe we made a mistake.”

That mistake will leave a scar atop the scar Pepper already had.

Jones said she didn’t have to pay for the spay surgery, but the clinic did charge her $35 to cover the cost of the anesthesia.

How a dog in Massachusetts passed time


Time was of the essence after a Massachusetts dog consumed three wristwatches — almost in their entirety.

The owners of Mocha said they rushed the dog to MSPCA’s Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston after finding a few remaining pieces of the watches — which had been inside a drawer the dog somehow opened — on the floor.

mochaMocha was admitted on April 16, the hospital said in a press release, and endured a three-hour endoscopic procedure which allowed the medical team to determine how much material was in her belly — and the best way to remove it.

The team was able to remove some of the leather from Mocha’s stomach using the endoscopy instruments.

As for the rest, they decided to let nature take its course, which nature did.

Over a period of several days, Mocha eliminated another pound of broken leather straps, buckles and various other metal pieces, said Dr. Zachary Crouse.

“We were especially cautious and wanted to avoid surgery—given her history,” he said.

Mocha was admitted to the animal hospital in August of 2014 after swallowing a plastic juice container lid. It obstructed her intestine and had to be surgically removed.

Angell doctors credited the quick thinking of Mocha’s owners, Michele Parkinson and Jeff Courcelle of Salem, who rushed the dog to the animal ER immediately after discovering bits and pieces of the watches on the floor of their home.

“Mocha dodged a bullet for sure and I credit her owners for getting her straight to the hospital,” said Dr. Crouse. “This could easily have turned into a life-threatening situation if they had delayed.”

“We brought her to Angell as soon as my husband saw the broken watch pieces, even though she was showing no symptoms whatsoever,” said Parkinson, who works as a nurse in the hematology department of a major area hospital.

Mocha stayed at the medical center for two days, and returned last Monday for a follow-up exam. An x-ray showed that six small pieces remain inside her, but should pass without surgical intervention.

“One thing’s for sure: we’re going to do everything we can to keep anything remotely ingestible out of her reach,” said Parkinson.

(Photos: Angell Animal Medical Center)

Wayne State urged to end dog experiments


A physician’s organization led a rally this week urging Wayne State University to end its long-running series of cardiac research experiments on dogs.

About 45 people joined in the protest, led by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

According to the nonprofit organization, the heart failure experiments have been going on for 20 years, at a cost to taxpayers of about $8 million, and have provided no information beneficial to treating human heart disease.

No dogs leave the program alive.

“These research experiments have not garnered anything that has advanced human health,” said Jennifer Giordano, a Detroit-area doctor representing the committee. “We want them to use human-relevant research methods.”

In the experiments, heart problems are induced in the dogs by the use of implanted electrodes, which cause their heart rates to more than double.

The dogs are then put through multiple surgeries and are required to run on treadmills. About 25 percent of the dogs die during or after the surgery. Those who do survive are euthanized when their participation is no longer needed.

The experiments are funded in part by the National Institutes of Health.

At the Wednesday rally the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine presented a letter signed by actress Lily Tomlin to Wayne State University officials, calling on them to end medical experiments on dogs. Tomlin is a Detroit native and attended the university.

In the letter, Tomlin wrote: “I understand that Wayne State is spending millions of taxpayer dollars using dogs in heart failure experiments that have not benefited human health in any way. I urge you to end these senseless experiments as soon as possible.”

A copy of the letter was given to Matt Lockwood, a university spokesman who came to the rally and a read a statement defending the experiments, the Detroit News reported.

“Almost every medical advance in the last 100 years was due to research on animals — chemotherapy, hip replacements, transfusions, dialysis — was all tested on dogs,” Lockwood said. “We need to continue to do research to advance science.”

He said the animals in the experiments are under the constant supervision of veterinarians.

“There’s a committee that’s sole purpose is to ensure the animals are as comfortable as possible,” he said. “We’re also under the oversight of the federal government and the state. Never once has any animal been found to have been mistreated at any time.”

He said the dogs are euthanized after taking part in the experiments, but he declined to provide numbers.

(Photo: Daniel Mears / Detroit News)