Cambridge-based Dick White Referrals (DWR) is to become one of only a handful of sites globally to offer open-heart surgery in small animals. 

The referral centre has invested in a new heart and lung machine, and an oxygen cage, and is expected to take its first patients in the autumn. 

The service will be established and led by head of cardiac surgery Poppy Bristow (pictured right) and head of cardiology Anne Kurosawa, who have already performed this kind of surgery on more than 100 dogs to date.

DWR is also setting up its own blood transfusion service to collect blood from staff and clients’ pets to support the service. 

The blood collected will also be used to support the practice’s emergency and critical care service and its planned dialysis programme. 

Poppy said: “There are hardly any other centres in the world offering this type of surgery, especially with this level of expertise that comes from the collective team we have gathered at DWR. 

“Mitral valve disease is the most common heart condition in dogs and sadly, many dogs die every year as there are very few options for treatment. To be able to offer surgery to more dogs and their owners is really exciting. 

“DWR is the perfect environment for this pioneering programme, due to the state-of-the-art equipment and depth of expertise on hand to support this life-saving initiative.”

Rob Foale, clinical director at Dick White Referrals, added: “It’s a hugely significant step for us to be launching this service, drawing on Poppy’s expertise in this field. 

“We’re also starting our own blood transfusion service to complement the launch, as the pandemic has led to a huge drop in pet blood donations.

“Any excess blood we collect will be donated to the national Pet Blood Bank charity, which supplies blood to veterinary practices across the UK and does a fantastic job.”

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