During a weekend in September 2017 I noticed Pedey was coughing more and seemed lethargic. I took him to the vet the next day. They performed a chest x-ray and found his heart to be severely enlarged. I thought it looked like a football, it was so big. I was able to get him to a cardiologist the following day where he was diagnosed with mitral valve disease and was already in congestive heart failure. He had a grade 4-5/6 left apical systolic murmur and his left atrium and ventricle were both severely enlarged. This came as a surprise because he had a dental in June 2017 and no murmur was detected at that time. It seems as though the disease progression can be quite rapid in certain cases. Pedey was immediately started on Furosemide, Enalapril and Vetmedin, he responded extremely well. His heart, the left ventricle in particular, decreased in size to the high end of normal. At the time of Pedey’s diagnosis his cardiologist estimated he would have 1 ½ to 2 years left with medical therapy.
I adopted Pedey in December 2014. At the time of his diagnosis he hadn’t yet lived with us for even three years. I couldn’t stand the thought of having him in our lives for such a short time so I did what most people do. I got on the internet and read everything I could about mvd and congestive heart failure in dogs. I came across a website that referenced a journal article from 2012 that mentioned some veterinarians at Nihon University perfecting a procedure to repair the mitral valve in dogs. I didn’t know about the Jasmine Clinic at that time and couldn’t imagine this would even be an option for Pedey. After more late night internet searches I found the Mighty Hearts Project website. After reading other people’s stories I realized this life-saving surgery was within our reach. We began the quarantine process in November, started the required testing and had a surgery date at the beginning of February. The hardest part was the waiting and hoping Pedey would make it to Japan in June. Pedey’s pre-op appointment showed that his heart was becoming enlarged again so the timing of surgery was crucial. After surgery Dr. Uechi informed me that all of Pedey’s chordae tendinae were stretched and one had ruptured.
At one month post-op Pedey has a 1/6 left apical systolic murmur, which I don’t think is unexpected with the addition of artificial chordae tendinae. All chambers of his heart are now normal in size; he has barely detectable regurgitation and doesn’t need any medications. I could not have wished for a better outcome.
Thank you to all of the dedicated people that put together and contributed to the Mighty Hearts Project website. Sharing experiences and answering questions through the site allowed me to believe the impossible possible. Thank you to Dr. Uechi, Dr. Sayaka and all the staff at Jasmine Clinic for their expertise and dedication to saving our furry family members.