Brain Surgeon Saves Canine Companion
One of South Africa's leading Neurosurgeons took on an unusual challenge last Saturday when he operated on Pablo, a St. Bernard dying from excess fluid on his brain. Had he not done so, two year old Pablo, who was suffering from hydrocephalus, or water on the brain, would have become so crippled that he would have had to put down.
The operation takes upto an hour on humans. But for 85 kg Pablo, the delicate operation took four hours.
Pablo's owner is Avril Jorge of Ormande, Johannesburg, A nursing sister in the neurosurgical intensive care unit at a Johannesburg Hospital.
Jorge says she feels proud of her brave dog, who is "almost himself again".
Eight months ago she noticed that her prize-winning dog had become clumsy and that his feet were shaky. "It got progressively worse, but the vet said he had no idea what it was. In July I was  advised by Horst Kranz to take him to a veterinary specialist surgeon in Randburg."
After a series of misdiagnoses, the vet then decided  to send Pablo for a magnetic resonance imaging scan at Sunning Clinic.  After discovering the  hydrocephalus, the outlook was bleak as the vet informed Jorge that " no
one could help as not even Onderstepoort Veterinarian Research Center had done any neuro-surgery on dogs".
Jorge then asked a neurosurgeon she had worked with if he could do the operation.
"The neurosurgeon agreed immediately, and said he would not charge me a cent.  Costa and I attended the operation last Saturday in the vet's rooms.  There was another vet assisting, and I helped wherever I could. "The operation was great success, and when it was finished, the neurosurgeon looked at the sleeping Pablo with his bald head and said:  ' When he wakes up  he's going to say it must have been a hell of  a bachelor party.  But what happened to my hair?' "  Said Jorge:  " Although I will have to cover some of
the costs of the operation, I am grateful to the surgeons for giving their professional services free." The veterinary specialists surgeon, who may not be named for professional reasons, said the operation had been done once before " purely as an experiment at Medunsa, but this is the first time in South Africa it has been done in private practice on a dog". He said this kind of operation could cost about R5 000.
- Acknowledgements:
SUNDAY TIMES METROSeptember 14 1997


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