A pot-bellied pig named Itty Bitty anxiously awaits a fresh start after vets at Washington State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital performed a life-saving procedure to remove a 23-pound tumor the size of a balloon. basket of his abdomen.
“Most of the time, in cases like this, the animal will die on the operating table simply because it has lost too much blood,” said Dr Amanda Kappes, farm animal intern at the WSU. “There were times we thought we were going to lose her, but she got away with it.”
Just a day before the operation, the owner of Itty Bitty handed the pig over to Crystal Curtis, a volunteer at the Animal Angels Shelter in Ellensburg, Wash. It was clear that the pot-bellied pig was in pain. His eyes dropped. His ears were soft. She had only skin and bones, other than her abnormally large stomach, which hung to the ground.
“She didn’t even look like a pig to me when I first saw her here,” said rescue owner Katrina Willard. “She looked so sick. I didn’t think she would make it through the night.
Knowing that time was something Itty Bitty didn’t have, Willard transported the pig to WSU hoping the farm animal vet team would be able to save the animal.
An ultrasound and x-rays ordered by Drs. Kappes and farm animal veterinarian Jennifer Sexton showed a large lump in Itty Bitty’s abdomen, but exploratory surgery was scheduled to see better.
“We really had no idea what we were going to find once we opened it,” said Shelby Abeyta, a fourth-year veterinary medicine student.
What they found was a massive growth with extensive blood vessels over her uterus. Knowing that removing the tumor would be risky and could result in the loss of a dangerous amount of blood, Kappes left the operating room to call Willard and explain to him that most animals in Itty Bitty state do not survive. to surgery.
“She literally walked away from surgery to call me,” Willard said. “I thought Itty Bitty was going to die, but that was our only option if we wanted to save her. I sat in my rocking chair and sobbed.
The next call Willard got came with better news – Itty Bitty had survived. With the 23-pound tumor gone, she weighed just 46 pounds.
The lump was sent to the WSU’s Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab for testing, where it was confirmed to be leiomyosarcoma, a type of cancer that develops in smooth muscles. Even though the mass was cancerous, the long-term outlook for Itty Bitty is positive.
“Usually, with cancer, the prognosis in our animals is quite bleak. But with the cancer she had, it’s 98% curable just by removing it, ”Kappes said.
Willard created a Facebook fundraiser to help cover the costs of Itty Bitty’s care, and she was overwhelmed with the response.
“People everywhere are donating,” she said. “I can’t thank them enough – I couldn’t have afforded that because I have a lot of animals to take care of. We pay for all animals out of our pocket. Everyone recovered.
Four days after the operation, Willard picked up Itty Bitty from the WSU and brought her to her new home at Animal Angels Refuge, where she joined a handful of dogs, pigs and more than two dozen horses.
“I’m already attached to her,” she said. “I can’t wait to see her get better and put on weight.”