A Sydney pooch named Prince has been given a new leash on life after becoming the first Australian dog with an incurable type of cardio-respiratory disease to receive open-heart surgery.
Prince, a 10-year-old male Cavalier King Charles, suffered from mitral valve disease (MVD), which kills thousands of dogs in Australia every year.
After the six-hour operation performed by Dr Masami Uechi and five members of his team from Japan, Prince’s life expectancy has been extended for years.
“Due to the fact that this was a first-of-its-kind operation, the emotional and financial cost was high,” Prince’s owner Cindy and Ken Ting said in a statement.
The total cost has come in at $50,000, a University of Sydney spokeswoman said.
The couple hopes Dr Uechi’s procedure will be more accessible for other dog owners in Australia who were previously left without hope if their pet was diagnosed with MVD.
Joining Dr Uechi and his team were Veterinary Science specialists from the University of Sydney, eager to learn how to perform this operation in Australia.
Veterinary cardiology specialist Dr Niek Beijerink said it was an unparalleled opportunity to be able to take part in the operation.
“(It’s the) start of the process of learning how to perform the surgery ourselves on Australian dogs and hopefully prolong many of their lives,” he said in a statement.
Dr Uechi, Director of Jasmine Veterinary Cardiovascular Medical Centre in Japan, says it’s taken him 15 years to develop the mitral valve repair technique.
After operating first on cats, he’s now applied the technique to more than 900 dogs with a 94 per cent success rate.
Given the expense for the procedure included the surgeons’ flights from Japan, University of Sydney has launched a crowdfunding campaign to support the cost of training.
MVD occurs predominantly in middle-aged to older dogs of a small to medium-size breed.