$50K Open-Heart Surgery in France Saves Pennsylvania Dog

It’s never easy having to face your pet’s health issues. What’s even harder, though, is when you can’t do anything to help them. In Sophie’s case, it seemed that there was no solution to her problem- at least not in the United States.

Back in 2011, Sophie, then a 3-year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel from Pennsylvania, was diagnosed with a heart murmur that eventually became mitral valve endocardiosis. This fatal disease affects around 30% of small breed dogs who turn 10, weakening the heart muscle, and, ultimately, leading to congestive heart failure. Unfortunately, no vet clinics in the United States perform the complex and expensive open heart surgery needed to save the lives of dogs suffering from this fatal condition. When Jeanne Navratil, Sophie’s owner, heard the disheartening prognosis, she knew she had to do something.

Posted by Jeanne McEndree Navratil on Sunday, December 24, 2017

While researching ways to help her pooch, she found Mighty Hearts Project on Instagram, a group of pet parents who took their dogs out of the country in search of the life-saving procedure. There she found out about a group of veterinary surgeons from Japan, led by Masami Uechi, who regularly visit France to operate on dogs in need. The team had 90% percent success rate with an open-heart procedure to repair the valve, and they were Sophie’s last chance.

Even after she found out about the procedure, the process of getting it wasn’t easy. The price tag for a complicated surgery like that was a whopping $50,000, and the transoceanic trip would not be easy to organize, even with the funds. However, one loan and many pet-friendly accommodations later, Sophie was on the operating table, fighting for another chance at life. The surgery has minor complications, and the 10-year old pooch had to receive two blood transfusions, and developed a UTI and three blood clots. She was put on a strict recovery program that meant there would be no jumping, running, or getting excited, at least until her heart fully heals. But, the little fighter that she is, Sophie managed to recover beautifully.

Two of her blood clots have disappeared two months after the surgery, and she’s already starting to improve. She’s not sleeping all the time, and she has more interest in toys and walks around the neighborhood. To her owner, the transformation is amazing. It seems like all that effort and love really did pay off- Sophie and Jeanne will have a few more wonderful years together.


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