A Basketball-Sized Problem
This is our horse named Summer. She's an elderly Belgian Sorrel Draft Horse who came into our Sanctuary with another tractor-pulling draft, Autumn. The two were thin for their gigantic bodies, both with leg injuries that had not been maintained by their previous owners, and so both have long-term issues. Summer's grew, and grew, and grew!
Below is a photo of what was described as a "sore from an injury." The photo on the left is from 1 year ago. Every month, with the provided medication, the sore grew 1 inch in size. We requested a biopsy, worried that the sore was going to soon impede her walking. The results came back that it is a sarcoid. Sarcoids are not cancer, but they are treated with similar creams and ointments. They are a bovine papilloma virus that in Summer's case, has grown uncontrollably, being treated with prescribed cancer creams. We just couldn't rest knowing there was nothing more we could do. So we continued hunting for specialists.
Dr. Vlahos from Wyoming's Yellowstone Equine Hospital recommended not giving up, and trying a custom vaccine that can get made from the horse's sarcoid. We were VERY lucky to find Dr. Espy (his background is fascinating) -- living just hours away in San Antonio, whose Clinical Test from 2008 is the basis for a unique treatment used nationwide by veterinarians called Autologous Implantation. We reached out, and after evaluating Summer's histopathologic report, he drove several hours to perform his surgery on Summer at our Sanctuary.
*Warning: Images Below are Graphic. If you get queasy, stop scrolling*
Is This a World Record?
We measured Summer's Sarcoid - 31 inch diameter! A basketball is 29.5 inches. It's growth over the hoof is what scared us. If it kept going, it would impede her walking and euthanasia would be inevitable if she couldn't walk comfortably.
Yesterday, Dr. Espy went to work with the help of our team. Summer was slightly sedated for a procedure that is nothing short of miraculous! A short summary:
Step 1: A slice of the sarcoid is removed
Step 2: Cut into pieces, ideal pieces are selected and placed into a Liquid Nitrogen chamber to sterilize.
Step 3: Sterilized pieces of sarcoid are then implanted into 4 areas along the horse's neck - sewn into place.
Step 4: The horse's body begins creating it's own vaccine against the sarcoid, shrinking it hopefully to non-existance over the next 90-180 days.
Day 1 and Counting!
We will be sending photographs to the doctor weekly for checkups, and Summer is none-the-wiser. She is still galloping with her bouncy basketball as we hope for positive results that so many hundreds of other horses have had, so she can enjoy her twilight years here at the Sanctuary.
Grateful Is an Understatement
It is just a week before Christmas and we feel overwhelmingly grateful in finding Dr. Espy, through the recommendation of our other phenomenal veterinarian, Dr. Vlahos -- it is truly a Christmas miracle. Searching, and searching and searching for solutions to our animal's health problems can be incredibly discouraging and difficult. Ask any Sanctuary or Rescue! It turns us into "googlers" because there doesn't seem to be a visible-enough system for applauding and sharing the most useful, crucial solutions and veterinarians. But finding the most specialized, best of the best team is worth it! They are veterinarians who have the soul of the animals in their heart. Their methods might not be traditional, and their inventions and clinicals may not be easy, but they never gave up, because they absolutely believe animals deserve the same healthcare as humans.
THANK YOU ALL for making this treatment possible for Summer. By just loving the products you use, you are funding these lifesaving treatments and together, we're helping bring to light the most incredible veterinarians who are on the front lines every day!