A&M Surgeons Perform Groundbreaking Procedure

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For Patricia German, her standard poodle Sophie is more than just a dog. She is a member of the family.

"I don't know how to describe an attachment like this it's more than a child in some ways," said Patricia German, poodle owner.

About six months ago German received a phone call and learned that, even though she showed no symptoms, young Sophie could be dying from a heart defect.

"The breeder called and let us know that some of her siblings, it was discovered, had heart defects and we should go get her checked," said German.

A pulmonary ultra sound revealed that Sophie did in fact have heart defects and without treatment she could die in less than a year. In this situation, most pet owners wouldn't have many options. But Sonya Gordon, a canine cardiac surgeon at Texas A&M University offered, Sophie and her siblings a second chance.

"I said there's something they do in people, it hasn't been done very much in dogs, I think we could assemble a group here who could probably make that happen," said Dr. Sonya Gordon, canine cardiologist, Texas A&M University.

And they did, for the first time ever, A&M surgeons performed a non-invasive cardiac catheterization repairing the hole in one of the poodle's heart. But the A&M team didn't act alone, since the procedure is commonly done in children, not dogs, a surgeon from Texas Children's Hospital in Houston assisted with the procedure.

"Using the years of experience and technology in children and to be able to apply that to the animal and provide them with the benefit we provide to children is rewarding," said Dr. Ronald Grifka, cardiac surgeon, Texas Children's Hospital.

The first surgery was successfully completed and although the procedure is new for dogs, Gordon says the future is bright.

"It's a very doable procedure in the long run especially if we make a few modifications," said Gordon.

The team will be operating on Sophie and her siblings in the next few days. Now these frisky poodles, that have made canine medical history, will have a chance to become old pooches.