September 7, 2016

A Great Fix

By far, one of the coolest things I did while volunteering with Amazon CARES was assisting during surgery. As a 3rd year veterinary student in the US, I arrived fresh out of my small animal surgery course where we learned basic surgical techniques like suturing, maintaining sterility in the operating room, and common procedures like spaying and neutering dogs and cats. 

Volunteers Sydney, Amanda and I in surgery with Dr. Edwin
I was psyched about observing all the interesting surgery cases, but I hadn't anticipated that Dr. Edwin, one of the staff veterinarians, would ask us to scrub in and perform sterilization surgeries on feral cats with his assistance starting on day 1! Wow!
Performing a flank spay!

Veterinary assistant Junior helped us get started with preparing the injectable anesthesia, positioning of the patient, and preparation of the incision site. We performed our first male castration surgery, doing exactly what we had been taught in class. We watched Dr. Edwin spay a female cat- he used a special technique called a “flank spay” that I hadn't seen before. Rather than a traditional abdominal midline incision, a small incision is made on the animal’s right flank area. Then, the uterus and ovaries are identified and taken out similar to the traditional approach. Dr. Edwin explained that this technique can be much faster than a ventral abdominal approach with practice. I learned that flank spays can be easier to monitor post-operatively from a distance, and may have a better outcome if incisional suture failure were to occur.  Soon enough, it was our turn to do our own solo spay surgeries- it was a success thanks to Dr. Edwin and Dr. Fernando! 

One major limitation at the clinic is that we only had 2 packs of surgery instruments, so every few surgeries we would have to stop to clean all the supplies before we were able to resume. We also had to be very careful about not wasting expensive supplies such as suture and tissue glue. Most of all, we all wished we had air conditioning- the surgery suite is a small room with little airflow. It was sweltering hot all day long, so you just sweat, and sweat, and sweat in those masks and gloves. 

I can see how passionate and dedicated Amazon CARES team members are about not only taking the best care of all of their patients, but also readily sharing their knowledge with students like Sydney and I. We are the luckiest! 

Cats recovering from surgery

Written by Amazon CARES Volunteer, Sarita Patel

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