UC Davis Veterinarians Perform Life-Saving Heart Surgery On Cat With Rare Heart Defect

MILL VALLEY (KPIX 5) – It took five top-notch doctors and a risky surgery, but a heart patient in Mill Valley is on the road to recovery. But this patient apparently has nine lives.

Six months ago, Vanilla Bean, a Burmese cat, was running out of lives. She had a rare heart defect that was killing her.

“They told us, with this situation she has, maybe three months,” said Linda Harless, Vanilla Bean’s Owner.

Vanilla Bean was transferred to the UC Davis Veterinary Medial Teaching Hospital, where doctors confirmed the opening between her heart chambers was too small, not allowing enough blood to flow.

“Vanilla Bean’s blood vessels that lead to her heart are small enough that they will not carry the devices that we would need to perform such a procedure,” said UC Davis veterinary cardiologist Dr. Josh Stern.

Doctors had to get creative to pull it off. In the process, Vanilla Bean lost a lot of blood and needed several transfusions.

“But ultimately she is a really lucky cat because she came through the procedure and is now off all of her heart meds,” Stern told KPIX 5.

“She and her brother chase up and down the house, out the deck, around the furniture,” Harless said.

It’s now been four months since the remarkable miniature heart surgery. Doctors said Vanilla Bean appears to be making a full recovery.

Because this was such an unusual operation, most of the doctors volunteered their time on the case. The final surgery bill was just $3,000.

More from Don Ford
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