Rescue pup undergoes B.C.’s first canine open heart surgery
Darcy Matheson Wintonyk, CTV Vancouver
Published Friday, November 6, 2015 12:46PM PST
Last Updated Friday, November 6, 2015 7:07PM PST
A seven-month-old rescue dog is on the road to recovery after undergoing canine open-heart surgery to fix a rare congenital defect.
It is the first-ever procedure of its kind in British Columbia.
The seven-month-old German shepherd/Doberman cross, Taylor, was diagnosed with the heart defect after being rescued in Whistler.
With a distended abdomen filled with fluid, staff at the non-profit Whistler Animals Galore noticed the puppy was in medical distress – but didn’t know what was wrong.
That’s when B.C.’s only animal cardiologist, Dr. Marco Margiocco, was brought in to investigate.
After a series of cardiac ultrasounds and a CT scan, Margiocco noticed the cause of the abdomen fluid: the dog’s right atrium had a membrane stopping blood flow from returning to the heart.
He tried fixing the problem with a less invasive procedure, but it didn’t work. Margiocco and his team were only left with the risky option of open-heart surgery, a B.C. first.
Even more risky was the window to perform the surgery: Surgeon Michael King only had two minutes to operate before a lack of blood flow to other areas of the body could prove fatal.
He completed the procedure in one minute and forty seconds, and it was deemed an overwhelming success.
“This really was the only way to give him a healthy life. It was life or death,” King told CTV Vancouver.
Taylor is now recovering and will soon be released to the staff at WAG to help him find a forever home.
"He actually was eating and wagging his tail the night of surgery and was walking around the next day," said King. "He certainly bounced back much faster than you'd expect a human to after an open heart surgery."
Desree Arias, a vet assistant working with the pup through his rehabilitation, says he will make an “awesome” dog for someone.
“He’s always very happy and playful even though he wasn’t feeling well,” she said.
Taylor soon to be up for adoption by WAG after BC's first-ever dog open heart surgery. Pics by CTV's Shelley Moore pic.twitter.com/PAwxBlAXlN— Sheila Scott (@Sheila_Scott) November 6, 2015