Lazarus, the Miracle Dog

Lazarus was well named by Carolyn Davis. She adopted him the day before he was to be put down as an unwanted stray at a pound. Lazarus has turned into my most miraculous patient because he escaped death from three terminal diseases.

In 2008, when Lazarus was eight years old, he developed stage five terminal leukemia. At presentation, Lazarus had been vomiting blood and had a white blood cell count (WBC) of 659,500! The WBC normal  ranges from 6,000-18,000. He was at end stage crisis from Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. His overall prognosis was poor (less than 4 months). Carolyn would not allow a bone marrow biopsy because she did not want the risk since he was so sick (risk:benefit ratio).

We entered Lazarus into our Pawspice program. Pawspice rhymes with hospice but it is much much more! Pawspice embraces palliative medicine (reduces the signs and discomfort of illness) and offers kinder gentler standard chemotherapy. Lazarus’ chances for a long life were grim but Carolyn felt that as long as he did not feel sick from the treatments, she wanted us to try to save him.  She said, “I want to save him. I want him to be the miracle dog!”  Lazarus responded to the gentle chemotherapy and he survived stage five leukemia!

Two years later in 2010, Lazarus was swimming in Lake Arrowhead. He developed a severe infection of his liver (hepatitis). The infection concentrated in the tiny pathways of his bile system. Lazarus developed  yellow jaundice of his skin. He he had bloody small bowel diarrhea and extremely elevated liver enzymes. His liver biopsy diagnosed hepatitis with an infected biliary system  (suppurative cholangiohepatitis).

Rcently, Lazarus started having blood in his urine. When we checked his bladder, we found a large tumor involving the apex of his bladder. We tried to control the bleeding with an infusion into his bladder. Despite our efforts, his urine continued to be bloody. It became obvious to all of us, especially to his mom, Carolyn, that Lazarus would need surgery to remove his bleeding bladder tumor. There was no other feasible alternative. Despite the risk, surgery had to be done because Lazaruswas losing so much blood in one week that he required blood transfusions!

Of course, Carolyn was on board for the surgery. She almost demanded the surgery. We had to remind her that Lazarus had a special pre-existing history and co-morbid conditions. Read about his skirmishes with death in my Lazarus blog of September 24, if you don’t remember Lazarus! He is the miraculous survivor of near-death liver failure, horrible hepatitis and raging acute leukemia. All these factors, including his severe anemia, put Lazarus into the “high surgical risk” category.  I needed Carolyn to understand that Lazarus could die.

Dr. Villalobos founder of Pawspice (rhymes with Hospice) applied and received an Angel Fund Grant from the AHF-SCVMA.  Thank you Dr. Villalobos!


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