|Lumbry Park Veterinary Specialists, a small animal referral hospital in Alton, Hampshire and part of the CVS Group, has announced a partnership with the Evelina London Children’s Hospital to promote the concept of ‘One Health’. The partnership is the result of the experience of Lumbry Park’s Clinical Director, veterinary cardiologist, Dr Luca Ferasin, and his family around the birth of his second son, Mattia. This highlighted, in an unexpected way, the increasing importance of One Health – the convergence of human and veterinary medicine – and the benefits it can offer to both humans and animals.
Mattia Ferasin was born to Dr Ferasin’s wife Heidi, also a veterinary cardiologist, in March 2015, with multiple severe and life-threatening congenital heart defects. He successfully underwent more than seven hours of open heart surgery at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital, part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, when he was six days old. During this time, Dr Ferasin and his wife got to know Dr Caner Salih, a consultant paediatric cardiac surgeon and member of the team caring for Mattia.
Several weeks after Mattia’s surgery, Dr Salih acquired a French Bulldog puppy called Büdu and became concerned when a heart murmur was detected during his first visit to the vet. He asked Dr Ferasin to assess Büdu. He diagnosed him with a congenital heart condition called Perimembranous Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD). A VSD is characterised by a hole between the left and right ventricles of the heart which causes an abnormal blood flow between the two chambers. Ironically, a large VSD was one of the multiple heart defects successfully corrected during Mattia’s life-saving cardiac surgery.
Dr Salih said: “I first met Dr Ferasin and Heidi under one of the most stressful circumstances a parent can experience, that of waiting for a child to undergo life-saving cardiac surgery. Sometime later I had first-hand experience of something not comparable but nonetheless very stressful of having to wait for the results of a diagnostic test which Dr Ferasin was able to provide for our newly acquired puppy. I appreciated more than ever the importance of knowing that our newest family member was in the most capable of hands.”
Commenting on the partnership, Dr Ferasin explained: “The related stories of Mattia and Büdu highlight the remarkable similarities between paediatric and small animal medicine, not only in terms of medical conditions, diagnostic techniques and therapeutic procedures, but also in terms of the psychological, emotional and social importance of the human-animal bond – in both directions. After all, just like babies and young children, veterinary patients cannot communicate with us – while their ‘parents’ have the same need for reassurance that their beloved ‘baby’ will recover.
“Our partnership with the Evelina London Children’s Hospital will celebrate these similarities and promote the concept of ‘One Health’ in a bid to advance both human and veterinary medicine. By working closely with the Evelina London, we aim to contribute positively to the development of novel techniques, research and therapies in both our children and in companion animals. We’re planning a range of initiatives, including fundraising and collaborations with the clinical staff at Lumbry Park and the Evelina London, in particular with those in the cardiology and cardiac surgery departments. We’re also planning social events, such as advanced pet-therapy sessions for children undergoing treatment at the Evelina and their families, including direct interaction with our veterinary patients with similar conditions.”
He added: “Thanks to the dedicated team at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital, Mattia is thriving and is a happy, healthy and fun-loving little boy. He will continue to visit the hospital for reassessments as he grows. Büdu visited us again at Lumbry Park during 2016 for a reassessment and an ultrasound of his heart showed the spontaneous closure of his VSD, resulting in the resolution of his condition. This is a rare but fantastic outcome which, to the best of our knowledge, has only been reported in a couple of canine cases in the veterinary literature. What better reason to cement the bond between human and veterinary medicine!”
Dr Salih added: “Many people do not appreciate the amount of shared learning that has, for decades, occurred between the study of animals and medicine. Many of the advances in areas of human healthcare we embrace today simply could not exist without this relationship – and open heart surgery is one. The Evelina is delighted to be collaborating with Lumbry Park on this exciting venture.”
Lumbry Park Veterinary Specialists, part of CVS, the UK’s fastest growing veterinary group, was opened in October 2015. It employs several referral clinicians, including boarded specialists and board-eligible clinicians across a broad range of specialties, together with night vets, support and admin staff. Between them, they offer a range of advanced diagnostics and treatments for dogs and cats, including high-field MRI and CT scanning, keyhole surgery, interventional cardiac procedures and joint replacements.
Key to its success is CVS’ ability to attract ambitious veterinary staff and to invest in their clinical skills, knowledge and in research to drive the profession forward. It also provides the business support to ensure its diverse range of small animal, large animal and equine practices achieve their full potential. CVS’ guiding principles include a commitment to excellence in all aspects of its work and a focus on building long-term relationships with its customers and suppliers. The company works in close partnership with the wider veterinary profession and industry colleagues.