Oscar’s surgery was performed by Noel Fitzpatrick, neuro-orthopedic surgeon

GoogleNews.com, June 28, 2010, by Ryan Morrison  –  “Without this surgery he wouldn’t be here, it’s as simple as that,” Kate Allan, whose cat Oscar is recovering from an operation at the  veterinarian hospital.

Oscar is making headlines as this was no routine operation – he is the first bionic cat.

While snoozing in a maize field in Jersey, Oscar had his back paws sliced off by a combine harvester. Oscar’s other owner, Mike Nolan, was at home when a passer-by knocked on his door to ask if he owned a black cat.  Mr. Nolan said it was horrible: “Complete panic at that point, [Oscar was] covered in blood, bits of flesh, it was very gruesome.”

Oscar in the corn field before his accident

“It was very traumatic, I was convinced we were going to have to put him down at this point.”. Peter Haworth was the vet Mr. Nolan saw at New Era Veterinary Hospital in Jersey, he was able to clean and dress Oscar’s wounds.

Mr. Nolan said: “Peter was able to stabilize him, got painkillers going and he was comfortable within minutes of getting into the vets, on a strong painkiller I imagine.” The vet then suggested Oscar’s owners approach Noel Fitzpatrick, a veterinary surgeon from Surrey, who had been doing pioneering work on prosthetics. The next stage in Oscar’s road to fame then involved a lot of communication between England and Jersey with x-rays and pictures being sent back and forth.

Mr. Nolan said: “Peter e-mailed Noel, they had a lot of communication, Noel then contacted us to let us know what his processes would be. “It was very much a three way communication time, a lot of e-mails, pictures and x-rays flying around and Noel pretty quickly decided Oscar was a good patient.”

Two weeks later he was flown to the UK where he was measured for the implants and finally to have surgery.

The new feet are custom-made implants that “peg” the ankle to the foot. They are bioengineered to mimic the way deer antler bone grows through the skin. Ms Allan said the chances of her cat surviving without this operation would have been nil. Ms Allan said: “The fact that Oscar was such a young cat, he was only two and a half when it happened made him an ideal patient for this surgery.

“Oscar is a very chilled cat, he is very laid back, he takes things well which led to the surgeons in Surrey describing him as a very suitable candidate for this kind of surgery.” Oscar had to be transported to the UK from Jersey by air cargo and the whole journey meant him spending up to eight hours in his box.

Mr. Nolan said he felt for Oscar: “It was a little traumatic for us but I would imagine it was a lot more traumatic for him, a lot of noises and a lot of things going on he wasn’t aware of.” And for his owners one of the worst parts of the process was the uncertainty as it had never been done before.

We were in the hands of the surgeons. “Right the way along they said ‘we’d do everything we can but we’ve never done it before’, there were no guarantees. “We really trusted Noel for the work he was doing and we went with it.” For his owners the decision whether to go through with the surgery or not was down to how it would affect Oscar’s life going forward. Mr. Nolan said: “We would never have gone through with it if there was doubt about his quality of life going forward. “As he is at the moment we’re told he is running around, he has taken to his new feet really well. He is jumping about, walking as a cat should, eating, sleeping – it’s phenomenal really.” They were both really impressed with the quality of care Oscar has been given.

Ms Allan said: “We really believe he has had such amazing medical care throughout, both at New Era here and at Fitzpatrick referrals in England they treat him really well. “For instance he has three of his own rooms, he goes for walks on the lead, they treat him as part of the family, he goes out and about and so on.” There are pros and cons to Oscar being from Jersey but the biggest issue is that his owners can’t just bring him home early. Ms Allan said they’re leaving him in England for now: “The fact that he is from Jersey has its pros and cons. He’s still in England at the moment because he is going through full rehabilitation.

Oscar is recov­er­ing well in the UK

“If we lived in England we would be able to bring him back and forth because he could come home now but he still needs treatment.

“We have to decide if we want to put him through the trauma of flying or going on the boat regularly and at this stage probably not.”

When Oscar finally returns home to Jersey his owners have said that they will be watching him much more carefully.

Ms Allan said: “I think he will be more restricted when he comes back. The feet don’t have sensitivity in them but we will be able to take him outside and for walks and so on.

“But also we would be a bit cautious about him going to the fields with the combine harvesters anyway.”

Mr. Allan said: “Peter [their vet] has told us that following all the traumatic things that have happened to him he may not want to go out, he might be happier indoors.”

After everything that has happened, his owners wanted to thank the passer by who found Oscar in the field and everyone else involved.

Ms Allan said: “We would like to thank the passer by on her bicycle, we still don’t know who she was. Without her coming to knock on our door he wouldn’t be here.

“There have been a lucky series of events in this story so we would like to thank everybody involved.”

The Bionic Vet is on BBC 1 at 2245 BST on Wednesday 30 June 2010.


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