Horse healing well after vicious knife attack leaves hole in his face

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Much loved 13-year old Domino was viciously attacked by an assailant with a knife and hammer while grazing in his field 18 months ago.

The assault left him suffering horrific lacerations across his shoulder and face.

He required hours of surgery and months of follow up care, but due to the complexity of his wounds, a year and a half later — despite everyone’s best efforts — Domino still had one remaining wound to resolve.

That was until the Veterinary Wound Library HOPE fund made it possible to bring in a very special surgeon to fix him in time for Christmas.

Domino underwent many hours of surgery at Towcester Equine Vets to close the wounds on his face and shoulder.

Although the care he received was exemplary and supported by generous donations from the public and the fund-raising efforts of his owner, Tracey Nash, there remained a hole (called a fistula) in his face, which extended into a space beneath the bone over his cheek.

The missing bone and tissue meant that the fistula would not heal, so Domino needed daily wound cleaning and protection as well as antibiotics for frequent, intermittent infections, which could eventually have caused him severe health complications.

Finally, despairing of a solution, Towcester veterinary team and Tracey asked Georgie Hollis, Founder of the Vet Wound Library for help.

This was the fourth case of a fistula that Georgie had been involved in and she knew that this would be very difficult to repair. She contacted a veterinary specialist to see if he could help Domino.

“I was appalled at Domino's ordeal and the terrible situation that Tracey had to face. This was going to be a challenging wound to heal. I knew we had to help,” said Georgie.

Georgie also decided to support Domino through her newly formed HOPE Fund — a charity which will help animals like Domino who need repeat treatments to repair difficult wounds.

Georgie contacted European Specialist in Equine Surgery, Dr. Dylan Gorvy, BVSc PhD Dipl. ECVS, part owner and head of surgery at Mälaren horse clinic near Stockholm in Sweden.

The complex procedure involved creating two flaps – one made of a thin layer of tissue called periosteum that lies over the bone and one of muscle – both of which had to be rotated to cover the wound.

“Domino was a fantastic patient during both the surgery and recovery,” said Dr Gorvy. “The wound has now completely healed after just four weeks and finally, he can live a normal life again, after suffering such a horrendous injury.”

The surgery was performed on the 2 November at the Towcester practice.

“We received regular updates from Tracey and the practice,” said Georgie. “Initially we were cautious about whether the procedure had worked. Thankfully, it was a complete success and we are all absolutely delighted that Domino can enjoy Christmas without experiencing pain or infection.

"The plan for the Hope Fund is to support the cost of specialists and specialist techniques for veterinary patients of all shapes and sizes with the most challenging wounds.

“Domino’s case will be used to teach others how to approach these challenging wounds and I know that the lessons learned can help improve the outcomes for patients in the future."

Tracey is delighted to know that Domino is safe and well again.

“I can’t explain how shocked I felt when I found Domino — I thought I was going to lose him. He’s been through so much and I can’t thank the people who have helped him enough.

“We’ll never forget that terrible night but people have been so kind and on behalf of Domino and myself, we offer our heartfelt thanks for everything they have done.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the Hope Fund can do so here: https://donorbox.org/vet-wound-library-hope-fund

About the Veterinary Wound Library

All the cases helped by the Vet Wound Library are done so on the basis that it helps clinicians to achieve the three aims of wound management:

1. A functional, cosmetic repair. Where the proper function of the skin and scar tissue is a priority.

2. Relief of pain and distress to avoid unnecessary suffering. 

3. To achieve a rapid return to normal use by helping to find the most effective route to wound closure.

The company provides specialist support, including telemedicine, professional development for veterinary teams and educational resources.

About the HOPE Fund

The HOPE Fund aims to help support patients suffering from wounds that need long term care. Often these patients require surgery and repeated wound dressing and bandaging, which can become very expensive over time, even exceeding the funding met by insurance.

Grafting and basic reconstruction are techniques that can transform the healing process from one that can take years to just weeks but may be ruled out due to cost concerns, despite leaving wounds to heal naturally over an extensive period of time at the expense of the welfare of the patient. 

The HOPE Fund aims to help more practices better manage these wounds, while providing support for those cases that will benefit from specialist help. Donations to the HOPE fund will be used to pay for specialist care, equipment and training.

To support the work of the HOPE Fund donate here: https://donorbox.org/vet-wound-library-hope-fund

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