Apr 22, 2010 12:07 PM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

Lucky puppy! Neurosurgeon helps suffering pup

When a four-month-old puppy came through the doors of Minnesota's Inver Grove Heights Animal Hospital, Mary Phelps didn't stand a chance. "We're hopelessly in love with one another," says Phelps as she holds the little girl.

The French Bulldog was surrendered by a breeder who wouldn't be able to place her in a home. She has a condition called Hydrocephalus. It means fluid collects on her brain.

Mary already has a name for her, Barbie. "Mostly because she's going to have a lifetime of Phenobarbital, the drug to control seizures," says Phelps.

Most dogs with Hydrocephalus don't live long, but Barbie is one lucky dog.

"It's definitely unusual that I would be asked to weigh in on this," says Dr. Nicholas Wetjen. Unusual because Dr. Wetjen isn't a veterinarian, he's a pediatric neurosurgeon at the Mayo Clinic.

"My understanding is that it's very unusual in puppies that they would be treated for Hydrocephalus surgically and Hydrocephalus is one of the most common conditions that I treat surgically," says Dr. Wetjen.

So the pediatric neurologist will go to Inver Grove Heights on his own time to help veterinarians with the surgery to save Barbie. Medtronic has donated the shunt that will help relieve the fluid from her brain. "She deserves a chance," says new mom Mary with tears in her eyes. "She's just a very special dog."

The surgery will take place May 3. The shunt will drain the fluid in Barbie's brain into her abdomen, just like it works in humans.

If all goes well, Barbie will lead a very normal doggie life.



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