West Lothian pup first in Scotland for pioneering heart surgery

A LABRADOR puppy will have a life-saving £10,000 op to fix his broken heart.

Dexter will become the first pooch in Scotland to undergo the pioneering surgery to repair a cardiac valve.

Owner Fiona Kilanowski, 54, from Dalkeith, Midlothian, Edinburgh, said: “It is expensive, but we feel Dexter deserves a chance to live. He is a young dog just at the beginning of his life.”

Dexter will be taken to the Royal Veterinary College in London for the six-hour op next Monday.

He’ll have a theatre full of highly specialised vets whose work mirrors that of human heart patients.


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They will include two cardiac surgeons, two anaesthetists, a perfusionist to operate the by-pass machine, two scrub nurses and a team of cardiologists waiting to monitor him after surgery.

The family pet was diagnosed with heart failure shortly after his first birthday in November.

Fiona, a research assistant, said the shock diagnosis came after Dexter became overwhelmed by exhaustion after a short walk in the park.

She said: “Until then Dexter loved to run about and could walk for hours before tiring.


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“But even chasing a ball made him struggle for breath.

“We took him to our local vet who referred him to the Royal School of Vet Studies in Edinburgh.

“There tests revealed he had an unusual heart valve defect.

“It was not allowing enough oxygenated blood to circulate through his body.


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“Most dogs with this defect die within months, we have been told.

“We were absolutely devastated and not ready to lose Dexter.

“We asked if anything could be done to save him and it was then we learned of the pioneering surgery in London.

Fiona’s daughters Kirsty and Zoe are trying to raise half the amount through an online fundraiser called Fix Dexter’s Broken Heart. So far they’ve raised £1,960. Kirsty, 27, said: “Dexter is currently being kept alive on heart drugs. Even with these, he struggles to walk and is spending more and more of his time sleeping.


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“He is desperately trying to be a pup but can’t be.

“We just want him to get better.

“Sadly, our pet insurance does not cover the surgery.”

Next Monday, Dexter will undergo the six-hour surgery headed up by vet heart surgeon, Professor Dan Brockman.


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It will be carried out with a by-pass machine exactly like that used in human heart surgery.

Professor Brockman said: “Dexter will be the first Scottish dog to undergo the technique. Without surgery he would most likely die before his second birthday.

“The surgery is not without risks but is Dexter’s best chance of survival.

“We have only carried it out on two dogs previously.”