Meet Ella

Ella is a happy and very lucky Border Collie who now lives on a small farm. She was found abandoned early in life and was extremely skinny and malnourished. Despite worm treatments and antibiotics for an infection, Ella continually vomited after every meal.

When I saw Ella it was estimated by her teeth that she was between 5 and 7 months of age, and only weighed 4.9kg. After contrast X-rays, Ella was diagnosed with a congenital defect that caused a fibrous band to be trapped around her oesophagus and attached to her heart. This meant that Ella could only keep down 1 teaspoon of soft food, otherwise the food would get stuck and she would vomit it back up. Although the prognosis was poor, it was decided to attempt surgery to remove the fibrous band in the hope of finally allowing her to eat and keep her food down.

During the surgery we cut into her chest while she was being ventilated, and made a cut through the fibrous tissue that was attached to her beating heart.

Ella recovered well, and went from eating a teaspoon per meal to almost 1 cup of food per meal within a few days, quickly gaining weight. Within 2 months she had put on 10kg! Ella eventually caught up and now is an almost normal size and weight for her breed. The condition that she was suffering was called “Persistent Right Aortic Arch Syndrome” and is one of the rarest congenital diseases seen in dogs. Many veterinarians around the world will go their entire careers and not see this condition, so in many ways Ella’s story has become one of my favourite cases that I have been involved in.

Alex Hicks