Rescued donkey’s bulging, bleeding sarcoid treated successfully

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Snowdrop's aggressive penundulated sarcoid was lasered by vets, who then administered chemotherapy injections over several months.
Snowdrop’s aggressive pedunculated sarcoid was lasered by vets, who then administered chemotherapy injections over several months. © The Donkey Sanctuary

A rescued donkey with “an exceptionally challenging case” of skin cancer near her eye has been successfully treated by veterinarians at the world’s largest equine welfare charity.

Snowdrop and her companion, Marble, were reported by a member of the public in Yorkshire to be in dire health. The sarcoid over her eye was bulging and bleeding.

Snowdrop and Marble were relinquished into The Donkey Sanctuary’s care at the end of last year after welfare adviser Charly Wain visited their owners. She explained the different options available, “and luckily the owners chose to relinquish the donkeys into our care. I was relieved at how understanding they were of the need to take action quickly,” Wain said.

If left untreated, the painful skin cancer could have proven fatal.

“Snowdrop was an exceptionally challenging case,” said Luke Poore, The Donkey Sanctuary’s Head of Clinical Services.

The sarcoid over Snowdrop's eye was pedunculated, or on a stalk. Such a sarcoid is known as a Fibroblastic sarcoid.
The sarcoid over Snowdrop’s eye was pedunculated, or on a stalk. Such a sarcoid is known as a Fibroblastic sarcoid. © The Donkey Sanctuary

“She had a pedunculated (on a stalk) sarcoid, which was very aggressive, bleeding and obstructing the donkey’s vision due to its proximity to her eye. We carried out a resection with a specialist laser to remove the majority of the tumour, followed by a series of chemotherapy injections over several months to destroy cells at the base of the site. Each time chemotherapy was administered the donkey was sedated to ensure she remained calm, particularly given the sensitive location of the tumour.”

The treatment was not only risky for Snowdrop but also for companion Marble. Donkeys develop extremely close bonds and separation can cause extreme anxiety which can in turn trigger hyperlipaemia – a life-threatening condition brought on by stress. There were no guarantees for Snowdrop as her condition was critical due to it being left untreated for so long.

Snowdrop's sarcoid treatment has been successful, thanks to the care she received at The Donkey Sanctuary's renowned equine hospital.
Snowdrop’s sarcoid treatment has been successful, thanks to the care she received at The Donkey Sanctuary’s renowned equine hospital. © The Donkey Sanctuary

“There is no excuse for a donkey having a tumour of this size and complexity; there are so many resources and help available for donkey owners, it should never happen,” Poore said.

Both donkeys were also seriously overweight when they came into The Donkey Sanctuary but a special diet was arranged to help manage their weight. Thankfully Snowdrop’s sarcoid treatments seem to have been successful and both donkeys are now doing well in charity’s care.

This year The Donkey Sanctuary is celebrating its 50-year anniversary during which time it has become a global leader for equine welfare, research and veterinary care.

Snowdrop and Marble with their groom.
Snowdrop and Marble with their groom. © The Donkey Sanctuary

 

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