Jewel Belsinger

 I bought Jewel from a pet store in 2009 (I didn't know better at the time). I got her when my daughter, Lauren, was 9 years old. I was raising my daughter as a single mom and we wanted a pet to add to our family. We went to the pet store and saw the most adorable Cavalier puppy. We played with her in the visit room. She was quiet and sweet. We put her back in her cage and were going to take the night to decide for sure. Jewel was sharing a cage with a Jack Russell. He was active and jumping all round. When we put her back, Jewel stood at the cage door and looked at us with the saddest eyes that I have ever seen. She wanted so badly to be out of the cage and go to her forever home. Lauren and I took her back out of the cage and she's been with us ever since that day in February 2009.

Jewel has battled health issues her whole life. She has had 2 knee surgeries for patella luxation and has permanent pins in her knees, along with a host of other medical issues. The most serious issue was MVD. Jewel always had a heart murmur. It became more noticeable over the years. I mentioned it to her orthopedic surgeon (who is an avid Cavalier owner). He recommended that Jewel visit a vet cardiologist, Dr. Cober, at CVCA Annapolis to see if she was at a point where she needed medication. I am so glad that I took his advice. Jewel had an echocardiogram and was diagnosed with moderate to severe mitral valve disease. The vet told me that the disease is progressive and that medication can help to slow the progression. Jewel began taking Pimobendan. She was stable on the medication and had the same diagnosis 6 months later at her next echocardiogram. I was relieved but knew that Jewel was on borrowed time. I decided to contact the Jasmine Clinic and sent all of the required testing and results to them. I was so excited when they said that Jewel was a candidate. I began the quarantine process and held onto the hope that the medicine would slow things down.

Jewel's health started deteriorating while I was waiting out the quarantine process. She was diagnosed with severe MVD during her next echocardiogram visit and she started taking Lasix. Surgery was scheduled for January 2019. I found out that she had Cushings Disease in December 2018, which needed to be under control before the surgery. I was devastated. Jasmine was busy and the surgery was postponed until April 1st. In the meantime, Jewel was continuing to go downhill. Her Cushings Disease was regulated, however, the MVD was getting worse. Jewel was coughing a lot. She would look at me and I could see the fear in her eyes. Her heart was so big that it took up her entire chest and was pushing on her bronchioles. I could feel her heart pounding when she was on my lap. She was lethargic and panting constantly. It was so hard to watch. I cried and prayed that she could hold on for 2 more months.

Late March finally came around and I was cautiously optimistic. We flew to Japan and met with Dr. Sayaka for a pre-op appointment. I felt like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders after the visit. At that moment, I knew that I made the right decision about the surgery and that if anyone could save Jewel, it was them. Jewel had surgery April 1st. I was a nervous wreck but felt relieved after meeting Dr. Uechi. The surgery was a success! Dr. Uechi said that Jewel had several broken heart chords, a hole in the atrium wall and her mitral valve wasn't closing. The hole in the atrium wall actually helped the blood equalize and may have prevented her from going into heart failure. It's a miracle that she had not gone into heart failure. I visited Jewel in the ICU and prayed for a good recovery. Jewel developed 2 blood clots in her heart during recovery. I was terrified but put my trust in Jasmine. They knew exactly what to do. Jewel was placed on blood thinners and the platelet count slowly went back to normal. I was so happy when she was discharged and cleared to fly back home!

We flew home and went to see Dr. Cober. The blood clots were stable. Jewel continued blood thinners and saw Dr. Cober a few weeks later. One clot was dissolved and the other was smaller! She is currently still on blood thinners and hopefully the last clot will be gone at the next visit. Jewel was tired the first few weeks home. She gradually became more active and is now like a different dog! She loves to be outside (she used to get too hot before surgery) and hardly pants at all. Her breathing is so quiet that I often look at her to make sure she is still breathing! Her eyes are sparkly and she is much more interested playing and enjoying things that she has not done in years. I am so grateful for Jasmine Clinic, Mighty Hearts and everyone's support. This experience has given me a whole new perspective on life. The dedication and expertise of the Jasmine team saved Jewel and provided us more time with a dog that has brought so much joy and happiness into our lives. She's been with me through everything over the last 10 years. Each day is a gift. I am forever thankful for the chance to spend more time with Jewel.

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Breed: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Age: 10 Diagnosis:Stage B2 Surgery Date: April 1st, 2019 Hometown: Baltimore, MD Owner: Jennifer Belsinger Primary Vet: Dr. Vander Veen, Pulaski Veterinary Clinic Cardiologist: Dr. Rick Cober, CVCA, Annapolis, MD Surgical Team: Dr. Masami Uechi, Jasmine Cardiovascular Medical Center

Mitral Valve Disease in Dogs | Mighty Hearts Project