Vasco had a mild level three murmur with no enlargement discovered April of 2018. He had his first Cardiology exam and echo and was cleared by Dr. Timothy Hodge for his May dental, they were to pull 16 teeth! June 30th we rushed him to the ER for labored breathing and discomfort. He was immediately put into oxygen and given pimobendan and Lasix. After 36 hours he was able to come home. We were shocked. Radiologists couldn’t conclude if it was pneumonia or heart failure. We kept him on a light dose of the medications and his appetite got worse and worse. Vasco went from 6.8 pounds to 5.3 pounds in a month. Even our cardiologist wasn’t sure if it was CHF because of how normal sized his heart was back in May. We decided to wait four months for another echo because Dr. Hodge said it would take time to see changes in the heart. In October it was confirmed he was in heart failure and it was bad... he’d developed pulmonary hypertension as well and was given 16 months left to live.
Through the tears... after being told there was nothing to be done except medications... Vasco developed hypocalcemia tremors and seizures due to the pimobendan and furosemide doses. We were in the ER over a dozen times between June 30th and January 12th. Only our neurologist Dr. Levitski and holistic vet Dr. Nespor would believe us that his tremors were due to hypocalcemia so we had Dr. Levitski prescribe us a calcium carbonate compounded medication and Vasco immediately stopped tremoring and seizing and put half a pound on. In October, through all of Mommy’s research she finally found Mighty Hearts Project and a surgery to save her baby! Mighty Hearts and Nate Estes were an immense help and without them we’d have never been able to do what we did to save Vasco!
We reached out to both Japan and England with all of Vasco’s records and waited for a response. Vasco’s records of tremors and seizures had made the surgeons very cautious about proceeding with surgery since they had never dealt with this issue before. Finally in January our amazing neurologist Dr. Robin Levitski wrote us a letter clearing Vasco of any neurological disorders and giving her approval for surgery. We immediately heard back from Japan and London and chose London because we were able to get Vasco there sooner. The RVC was honest and kept us in the line up from the date we contacted them even though we had the big calcium delay!
We arrived in London a few days before surgery. Vasco had surgery April 1st of 2019. It was the most amazing miracle we’ve ever seen! His heart began to shrink almost right away and within a week he was eating and putting on weight. ALL of the medications he was previously on were stopped... calcium carbonate, pimobendan, furosemide, spironolactone and sildenafil. He’s now only taking blood thinners for the required three months to prevent blood clots in recovery.
We are beyond grateful to the Mighty Hearts Community, Nate Estes, our brilliant surgeons Dr. Dan Brockman, Dr. Poppy Bristow and our nurses Sarah, Ali and all of the incredible teams who saved our baby! It was the best decision we’ve ever made and without it, we were certain to lose our angel.
We encourage everyone who has a dog in CHF to start the quarantine process immediately and consider surgery. After so much heartache, so many tears and so many visits to specialists and the ER we are so so so happy beyond words our baby was saved! Surgery works and Vasco continues to improve day by day.
Fight for what you believe in and always question what your intuition says may be false. We know our babies best! Find the best doctors who work with you and your baby and don’t always listen to the black and white book! It took a team of east and west doctors and specialists and a mother’s intuition to keep Vasco going!
We send all our love and gratitude.