Snowy’s eye saved after urgent dash to specialist donkey hospital

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Snowy with groom Kelly Bramley after his surgery to remove a sarcoid from near his eye.
Snowy with groom Kelly Bramley after surgery to remove a sarcoid from near his eye. © The Donkey Sanctuary

Snowy the donkey had a couple of friends along for support when he had to go for urgent hospital treatment during the Covid-19 lockdown in Britain.

Snowy, a resident at The Donkey Sanctuary, needed surgery to remove a suspected sarcoid which was growing close to one of his eyes. Commonly found in equines, a sarcoid is a type of skin tumour, and as early treatment is often more successful, it was paramount that it was removed as soon as possible.

The eight-year-old made the trip, accompanied by his friends Fern and Derek, to the charity’s state-of-the-art donkey hospital, just a short drive away from its international headquarters in East Devon. Donkeys form strong friendship bonds, and if separated can become agitated and distressed, so whenever donkeys need hospital treatment, they are always accompanied by their friends.

They were met on arrival at the donkey hospital by veterinary surgeon Vicky Grove and her colleagues, and after passing his pre-anaesthetic checks, Snowy was prepared for the surgery with an IV catheter and a mild sedative to reduce anxiety.

He was then separated from the others to go into the induction box where he was immediately given a pre-op sedative.

Vicky takes up the story: “Snowy was given an intravenous induction using ketamine and kept under anaesthetic using a top-up of the drug. As the suspected sarcoid was close to his eye, an injection of local anaesthetic was used to numb the area, and his eye was taped up to protect it from the laser beam.

“The operation lasted about 15 minutes as the lesion was only small, but because of its location right on the lower eyelid, it was highly significant.

“Using our laser diode machine to cut the lesion out meant that the surrounding tissues were heated up, which helps to reduce recurrence.”

Snowy leads the way off the truck after returning from hospital.
Snowy leads the way off the truck after returning from hospital. © The Donkey Sanctuary

Following the operation, the trio of donkeys was soon on their way back to the sanctuary in Sidmouth, where they joined their herd in time for their afternoon feed.

The removed nodule was later analysed by the lab who confirmed it was a sarcoid, but as it was fully removed it may not be necessary to provide further follow up treatment with topical chemotherapy.

Snowy is continuing to recover well, with his grooms providing daily checks. Because of the current travel restrictions in place due to the coronavirus, the veterinary team are restricted to emergency visits only, but are sent regular updates and photographs to monitor his progress.

The Donkey Sanctuary runs 10 sanctuaries around the UK and Europe, giving lifelong care to more than 7000 donkeys and mules. Its hospital treats sick donkeys and trains vets both nationwide and worldwide.

Snowy heads off to catch up with friends after arriving home from the hospital.
Snowy heads off to catch up with friends after arriving home from the hospital. © The Donkey Sanctuary

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