Some pooches get treats or a new toy for Valentine’s Day. But if you’re Mabel, a three-year-old British Labrador from the United Kingdom, this year’s V-Day was a little more memorable, if not slightly belated.
On February 15, surgeons gave her exactly what her heart needed (quite literally): the world’s first-ever canine open-heart surgery using new technology.
Mabel suffered from an uncommon valve condition called congenital tricuspid dysplasia, which inhibits blood flow and ultimately leads to exhaustion and heart failure. With her valves fused together, Mabel had just two bitty holes for blood to flow through.
Her parent, Annabelle Meek, knew that surgery would be risky with an 80% success rate, but saw no other choice for keeping her beloved pet alive. Since a synthetic heart was not a good option for Mabel, it was surgery or nothing.
Dan Brockman, a professor of small animal surgery who specializes in soft tissue, performed the six-hour surgery that saved Mabel’s life. Three anesthesiologists and two nurses joined him in the ordeal, which took place at the Royal Veterinary College’s Queen Mother Hospital for Animals in Hatfield, England.
So what took this pup from hurting to happy?
Brockman’s team began by giving Mabel a cardiac ultrasound. Then they drained the blood from her main veins before it entered her heart and returned to a key artery after it had been oxygenated by a heart lung machine.
From there, the team injected a solution to stop Mabel’s heart from beating so they could open it up. Once they separated her tricuspid valve from her fused ventricle and stitched it back up, Mabel’s valve was big enough for blood to comfortably pass through. After a six-day recovery in intensive care, she was ready to go home.
But the story doesn’t end there. It turned out that Mabel’s recovery went south once she got home. Her parent brought her back to intensive care, where she remained for another week. Now her owner reports that Mabel is better than ever and back to playing outside like never before, and that’s exactly what we want to hear.
Way to go being a tough girl, Mabel!