Puppy flies into SA for operation

2010-07-15 13:01

The Ugandan family of an Alsatian puppy that is due to undergo a

major heart operation in Pretoria tomorrow are hoping to have the animal home by

early next week.

The female puppy, named Kia, was being fed vitamins through a drip

at the Onderstepoort Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Pretoria this


Kia’s Ugandan vet, Dickson Okello, said: “We hope to have her back

in Uganda by Tuesday or Wednesday next week. Today she is on a drip, being fed

minerals so that her strength is up for the operation tomorrow.

“After the operation, she will spend a few days in hospital and

then hopefully she’ll be able to fly back to Uganda by Tuesday or


Kia was born in the kennels of a breeder in Nairobi, Kenya. She was

relocated to Jinja, Uganda with two other puppies to join the canine section of

a family owned business conglomerate.

Within two weeks of relocation to her new home, however, she

developed breathing problems and was treated for pneumonia by Okello, the

resident veterinary surgeon.

Kia responded to the treatment, but four days later she showed the

same signs of pneumonia, cyanosis (bluing of mucous membranes), exercise

intolerance, hyperventilation and unthriftiness or stunted growth.

Okello said he heard heart murmurs which prompted him to

“tentatively” diagnose a heart condition.

He took an x-ray which only showed enlarged ventricles.

The ultrasound scan and the electrocardiogram could not reveal


Okello said: “Because of these findings and the presenting clinical

signs, he diagnosed a medical condition known as patent ductus arteriosus, where

a duct which connects the pulmonary artery and the aorta that closes at birth

fails to close. This leads to poor oxygenation of the blood and body


Kia’s owners were concerned because the puppy was not living a good

quality life.

Okello said: “They asked if there was any treatment available for

the condition and they were advised that only surgery to legate the duct was the

definitive treatment or else the dog would die of hypoxia or congestive heart


Okello was asked to find out who or where the procedure to correct

the condition could be performed.

He made enquiries and was directed to Professor Louis Coetzee at

the Onderstepoort Veterinary Teaching Hospital (OVTH).

Coetzee discussed the case with Okello by telephone and email and

he suggested that the dog be flown to Onderstepoort for further diagnostic

imaging and tests.

Okello accompanied Kia to Pretoria on July 12 for the appointment

with Coetzee.

Upon arrival at the hospital from the airport in Johannesburg, Kia

was taken straight to the Intensive Care Unit.

Diagnostic tests including haematology and biochemistry were

carried out on July 12, 13 and 14.

An ultrasound scan revealed more intracardiac defects such as

pulmonic stenosis, ventricular septal defects, overriding aorta and ventricular

hypertrophy, a condition known as Tetralogy of Fallot.

A human pediatric cardiologist from Montana Hospital in Pretoria

was called in and he confirmed the condition of Kia’s heart.

In the operation tomorrow, surgeons will try to create a conduit

between her pulmonary artery and aorta to enable more blood to be transported to

the heart for oxygenation.

If successful, this will allow about 93% oxygenation of the blood

that is transported the tissues.

Okello said: “Kia is currently hospitalised at the ICU section of

OVTH and is getting much love, attention and care that she deserves from all the

medical team, surgical team and the students.”

Okello said Kia’s owner was phoning every hour from Uganda to find

out the latest news on his puppy.

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