japanese chin

Dog Survives Rare Heart Surgery

japanese chin
Japanese Chin photo courtesy Deposit Photo.

How far would you go to save your dog’s life. What if no veterinarian in the entire country performed an operation your dog needed to save his or her life? Esme the Japanese Chin was diagnosed with mitral valve regurgitation in April of 2014 and given a few months to live. His dad, M. Dylan Raskin, spent nearly $32,000 thus far to save his dog’s life with a rare heart surgery.

As of today, November 20, 2014, the dog underwent surgery to repair the damaged heart vale and replace the heart strings. It doesn’t end there: The surgeons who performed the operation were flown in from Japan at the cost of $22,000, financed by a personal loan and selling his car. Another 10K was donated by a private donor after learning of Raskin’s plight.

This operation marks the first time such an operation has been performed in the United States, which occurred at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

Raskin reported to the Press Republican that the dog remains in Intensive Care but his murmur and regurgitation were no longer evidenced.

Esme was still on oxygen in the Intensive Care Unit, but the dog’s heart murmur and mitral regurgitation were no longer in evidence.

The danger at this time is developing a blood clot, and the devoted dog dad receives an update from Cornell staff every 20 minutes or so. Since no veterinarian in the country performed this operation, Raskin reached out to Dr. Masami Uechi on his own.

Human Heart vs Canine Heart

With people, open heart surgery is something commonplace, but not without its risks. The same holds true for dogs, but due to heavy complications it is rarely tried in the states. Raskin is told the odds are 50-50 on the dog making it. If all goes well, Esme the dog is expected to live a normal life expectancy for a Japanese Chin.

For a human patient, open-heart surgery is routine. For veterinary surgeons, the procedure is fraught with so many complications that it is rarely tried, at least in the United States.

What would you do? Would you risk it to help your dog you love so very much? This writer is 150 percent of the “hell yes” side of the fence. 


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  1. If there was no other treatment option and my dog’s life was in imminent danger I would attempt the surgery. It’s a very hard decision; if surgery fails and your beloved dog dies you lose her immediately. If you don’t attempt surgery you lose her in a few months. For me, it’s worth taking a chance to save her life now.

  2. I’m glad this owner made the choice to save his dog. Perhaps it will encourage the veterinarians at Cornell to learn the surgery so future dogs can be saved.

  3. I salute Mr. Raskin for choosing to save his dog’s life even if he has to sell his car and take a personal loan. This shows how much this dog owner loves his dog. I hope Esme will be all right.

  4. This shows what true love is. If my cocker wasn’t almost 16 years old and didn’t have chronic pancreatitis, YES I would do this.

  5. hmmmm… Hard decision! I want my dog to live, but I don’t like seeing him suffer.

  6. You Rock, M, Dylan Raskin!,
    I have spent thousands on my Japanese Chin’s health and eye care and would do it all over again to ensure my pet is comfortable and happy!

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