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Barbaro making pleasing progess

June 6, 2006

Photo: Sabina Louise Pierce/University of Pennsylvania
Veterinarians at the George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals continue to be pleased with Barbaro's condition, which improves daily.

The Kentucky Derby winner is recovering from a shattered hind leg sustained at the Preakness on May 20. "He spent a restful weekend and is doing well," said Chief of Surgery Dean W. Richardson.

Barbaro remains in intensive care at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine's New Bolton Center.

Concern and support for Barbaro continues to pour in, often from unexpected sources. After seeing a photo of Barbaro lowered in our special equine recovery pool last month, the Notre Dame Masters Swim team—in support of a fellow athlete—made a donation for maintenance of the pool.

Horses waking from general anesthesia in an unfamiliar environment will opt for a "flight" response. When Ruffian shattered her leg in 1975, veterinary orthopedic surgeons worked to repair it. However, when the filly awoke from anesthesia, she thrashed about wildly, causing severe damage to the original break and fracturing the opposite leg.

Dr. Jacques Jenny, considered the father of large-animal orthopedic surgery, envisioned a system where horses could emerge from anesthesia without injury. To that end, the operating room at the George D. Widener Hospital is equipped with a monorail that runs from the OR to the recovery pool.

The pool-recovery system allows the disoriented animal to waken suspended in a specially engineered harness and rubber raft, allowing him to gallop or flail in the warm water until fully conscious, significantly reducing the risk of re-injuring the damaged limb. Once awake, the horse is hoisted from the raft and moved to the recovery stall where he can stand at once.

The recovery pool is located in the C. Mahlon Kline building at New Bolton Center. Named in memory of C. Mahlon Kline, the building was erected in 1975 through the generosity of his family and the C. Mahlon Kline Foundation.


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