Chloe’s Story

Chloe, a 6month old Siamese owned by Leon, was referred to one of Melbourne’s major specialist centres by his veterinarian for chronic vomiting. The specialist centre diagnosed a PRAA (Persistent right aortic arch) – a congenital anomaly that leaves a tight band constricting the oesophagus, causing the severe regurgitation Chloe was experiencing. The cost of surgery was $7,000, with significant risk of possible death or failure given the intricacy of this procedure. The specialist surgeon had yet to perform this surgery for this condition in a cat.

Leon, Chloe’s owner, found AAVS and applied for our assistance. Our head surgeon, Dr Karin, would normally do this procedure for approximately half the cost of a specialist surgeon, but we were able to help Leon in this case with a significant further discount.

Ultimately, PRAA was not the exact condition Chloe was suffering. She actually had an aberrant right subclavian artery. But the result is the same – a band restricting the oesophagus causes regurgitation.

Time is of the essence to give a good chance of a long-term result, as stretching of the esophagus above the restriction can result in long term damage.

Dr Karin Davids performed Chloe’s surgery with great success. In the below video, Dr Karin is looking after Chloe just a few hours hours post-surgery. It’s incredible how well our feline friends recover form major thoracic surgery.

Chloe had basically been unable to keep down any more than 10-20% of any meal in the preceding weeks. Watch Chloe ravenously devouring her first meal post surgery and read the testimonial we received from Leon just a few weeks after having Chloe going home a new cat.

Having recovered very well, Chloe’s owner Leon was extremely grateful to Karin.

A Testimonial From Chloe's Owner Leon

Hi, my name is Leon. My wife, Anica, and I bought a very nice little kitten from a breeder that breeds Oriental kittens. Her name is Chloe and she had to be flown in from Western Australia.  When she arrived she was just the most precious little thing we had ever laid our eyes on. We took her home from the airport and everything seemed to be fine for a few days, then all of a sudden Chloe couldn’t keep her food down, it was almost like she was over eating and kept on bringing it all back up.  My wife decided to buy one of those feeding mats that helps to slow down the eating speed so that we could get her to slow down and maybe keep her food down.  Well after a day or two we found that this process wasn’t working and she was still regurgitating her food.
My wife made the decision to take her to the local veterinary clinic to have her assessed and find out what was the cause of this anomaly with Chloe.  After several tests and some X-rays, it was discovered that Chloe had a congenital defect that was normally only found in large dog breeds like Great Danes and German Shepherds.  This anomaly is called Persistent Right Aortic Arch and is most common in dogs. The right aortic arch fails to regress normally, resulting in entrapment of the esophagus and trachea at the level of the heart base. Although this is a congenital defect, it did not present any symptoms until Chloe was approximately five months old as a result of her heart starting to grow bigger, and therefore squeezing her esophagus and restricting the flow of food to her stomach, effectively filling up the top part of her esophagus and making her regurgitate it all.  As a result of all of this, Chloe was losing weight at an alarming rate and was not expected to survive for more than a couple of weeks without some kind of surgical intervention.
Our local vet then referred us to AVC (Advance Vet Care) in Kensington and also to PMC (Pet Medical Crisis). AVC is an emergency department for animals and provides emergency care for all animals. Also of note here is that we were told that none of the surgeons at AVC had carried out this type of surgery on such a small animal, which in itself carried extra risks over and above those already explained to us. PMC is a volunteer service that helps connect low income families with veterinary surgeons that perform surgeries at a significantly lower cost. Unfortunately for my wife and I, we were only in receipt of a small pension from DVA, due to my military service, and we could not raise enough money to enable us to save Chloe’s life through the normal channels, this was a very sad time for us as we wanted to save her and give her the best possible chance in life.
AVC did some more tests to confirm the initial diagnosis and presented us with an approximate cost of $6,000 to $10,000 depending on what they found after beginning the surgery on Chloe. We left Chloe in their capable hands so that they could keep her alive whilst we tried to find a way to raise money for Chloe’s surgery. We then made contact with PMC to ascertain what they could do to help both us and Chloe.
PMC referred us to one of their preferred veterinary clinics, SAH (Southern Animal Health), Dr Karin Davids offered to do Chloe’s surgery for $3,000, which was a significant saving for us, still not within our reach, but cheaper nonetheless.  We did some research into Dr Karin and found that her portfolio was very impressive and we thought that she would be able to carry out Chloe’s surgery and that Dr Karin was Chloe’s best chance. After we made contact with SAH, they explained all the pro’s and con’s of the surgery, more specifically that this surgery was very rare in such a small animal and that it came with some very significant risks. It was also brought to our attention that SAH had a new program called AAVS (Advanced Affordable Veterinary Services), that delivers a 33% discount for low income earners to help with the cost of veterinary care and surgeries.  This brought our total cost down to $2,000, this was now an achievable scenario for us and we could now afford to have Chloe’s surgery and save her life.  We will be forever grateful for everything that SAH and AAVS have been able to do for us, an absolute godsend.
After Chloe’s surgery was carried out and she was recovering at SAH, we received a call from PMC that they were also going to pay $1,000 towards Chloe’s surgery. Chloe came through the surgery and we were shown a video of Chloe eating ravenously just 5 hours post surgery, this was very welcome news for us and we were very excited for Chloe’s future.
Chloe is now at home and is almost fully recovered from the surgery and the trauma that she had experienced since the initial diagnosis. To say that we are very happy with the outcome would be the understatement of the year, we are now looking forward to a long a happy life for Chloe.

With thanks,
From Leon