Call the sturgeon! £400 life-saving op on 2 goldfish using Bonjela to heal wound
A goldfish was put to sleep to receive an hour-long, life-saving operation worth 400 enough to replace the 2 fish 200 times over.
And since two-year-old Cedric the goldfish would have to heal in water, the vets used the ingenious technique of putting a form of Bonjela over the wound.
Vets performed the op on three-and-a-half-inch-long Cedric after he developed a cancerous tumour on his head that caused him to start swimming on his side.
Owner Emma Murphy, who is a cardiology nurse at the vets, realised if she didn’t act Cedric would have to be euthanised to put him out of his pain.
But the 35-year-old talked colleagues into performing the bizarre and complicated operation of anaesthetising Cedric and removing the tumour to save his life.
Colleagues are now hailing Tom Hackney, who performed the op, as a ‘supervet’ and branding him ‘Aqua Surgeon’.
Emma only had to pay for the materials used but she would have had to fork out at least 400 for the operation had she not been a member of staff for her 2 pet. This is the equivalent of a pet owner paying a 100,000 operation for a 500 dog.
Emma, from Denby, Derbyshire, said: “The tumour just kept growing and growing on Cedric’s head so I knew if we didn’t act then he would die a very painful death or we’d have to have him put down.
“He had started swimming on his side and moved with a very awkward tilt so he was clearly not comfortable and I felt very sorry for him. But it was the first time anyone at the centre had ever seen or even thought of an operation like this on a goldfish.
“Thankfully we have some specialist departments and were able to bring in an anaesthetist who had experience of anaesthetising coy carp but never a goldfish. Carp are a lot bigger, so this really was a first for everyone.
“Cedric lives with two other goldfish and before the op he didn’t even have a name if I’m honest, but a colleague said that there was no way they could spend so long operating on an animal without knowing its name, so we called him Cedric.”
Tom, a general referral vet at Pride Veterinary Centre in Derby, said: “It is an extremely rare to find an operation like this performed on a goldfish, especially outside of a specialist fish care unit or on anything smaller than a coy carp.
“The operation itself is not especially complicated but performing it on an fish that only a few inches in size and getting it done very fast because the fish is supposed to be in water makes it very tricky.
“I had never done anything like it and simply had to do a lot of reading to ensure I knew what I was doing before starting, so I knew it was safe to do.
“It’s definitely one of the most bizarre things I’ve encountered in my six years as a vet but I was delighted to be able to help out Emma and Cedric.”
Cedric was placed in a water bath laced with an anaesthetic to put him to sleep for the op.
Once he had gone limp, a scan was performed while Cedric was kept in the bath to ensure there were no major blood vessels supplying the five pence piece-sized tumour.
Wet towels were placed on the operating table to ensure a moist surface and then a tube was put in Cedric’s mouth to ensure water with anaesthetic in kept running through his gills. This kept him alive and also asleep.
Emma said: “It was nerve racking to watch an operation being performed on your own pet, especially one that no one had really done before it was a venture into unknown waters.
“We could see his gills moving as the tube passed water through, but apart from that we had no idea knowing if he was OK so we just had to work very fast indeed.
“It was really interesting to watch how well the team adapted to it and how we could perform such a complicated procedure on an animal like this, but I was really worrying about Cedric since he was my own pet and it had all been my idea. I was thankful when it was over and he was OK.”
Tom had to work fast to remove the tumour in the quickest time possible as Cedric needed to get back into water quickly.
He then cauterised the wound shut as stitches wouldn’t work in a fish’s head and used a special cream designed for ulcers to keep it sealed and keep infection out when Cedric was back in the water.
Cedric was anaesthetised for over an hour though thankfully he was only out of the water for a few minutes for the tumour removal.
Despite how unusual the procedure was, Tom said he had been involved in bizarre operations before so was not easily surprised.
Tom said: “I once was working a night shift and had to stitch up a gecko who had self-mutilated itself and was pulling out its own internal organs.
“But stitching up the belly of a self-mutilating gecko and an hour-long operation on a goldfish are definitely the two most bizarre incidents I’ve had to deal with.”