Tuesday, 20 July 2010

SeaWorld calls UCSD doctors to save sick dolphin

When the kidneys of a dolphin at SeaWorld began to fail, it almost certainly spelled death for the mammal. But now, Dottie the dolphin is still alive thanks to the park's veterinarians and two doctors from the UCSD Medical Center.

In January, one of SeaWorld's stars, Dottie the dolphin, stopped eating and refused to let the trainers, who love her the most, even touch her. "Worried. I was worried for her. You know she's an animal who has been pretty healthy her whole life," said Lauren Ford, SeaWorld's senior dolphin trainer. Ford knew her 23-year-old friend needed help.

Doctor Todd Schmitt, SeaWorld's senior veterinarian, immediately ordered a blood sample and because the lab work is done on site the shocking results were back an hour later. Dottie's blood was toxic. Her kidneys were not working. Dottie was dying. So Doctor Schmitt decided to reach out - from the world of animal medicine to the human world by calling Doctor David Ward from the UCSD Medical Center. Doctor Ward gave Dottie medicine to stabilize her blood.

Then, Doctor Ward suggested trying something that had never been done before - dolphin dialysis, which is a treatment that saved her life. "I think she was within hours of going out probably when we got to her," explained Doctor Ward. "Although Dottie's dialysis was working, it was not a long term fix so SeaWorld decided to bring her here into the operating room."

Dottie was diagnosed with a large kidney stone. The medical team then called Doctor Roger Sur and asked him operate on a dolphin. Although Doctor Sur has blasted more than a thousand kidney stones in humans, this was a 450 pound, unsedated dolphin and an operation that had to take place out of the water. During the procedure, Dottie's trainers stroked her and poured water on her to keep he calm.

"I just knew that the pressure was on because she was really sick, and I knew I had to get it done right the first time," said Doctor Sur. Snaking the scope through Dottie's urethra, Doctor Sur suddenly found the stone and attacked it with his laser, for what he calls one of the most rewarding procedures of his career. "I think my kids will remember that more than what I do everyday," he commented.

After months of recovery, Dottie is suddenly swimming circles around the younger dolphins, gobbling down fish and she's gained back close to 60 pounds. And, she is once again the talk of the tank. Dottie has other kidney stones and remains on medication. Her prognosis is good.

source: http://www.760kfmb.com/Global/story.asp?S=12748974 (+ video)

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