At Cornell University Hospital for Animals, a miniature donkey was fortunate to receive a pacemaker. It is the first surgery of its kind in large animal species at Cornell. The donkey named Nix had a potentially fatal heart condition and veterinarians feared his situation would get worse. If so, he could have a painful death. There are a few mini donkeys around the world with pacemakers, but it’s not common.
Nix would collapse and had overall lethargy beginning in the fall of 2020. Veterinarians did an echocardiogram and placed an ECG on her, which records the heart’s rhythm. With this information, Nix’s care team diagnosed her with a third-degree atrioventricular block: her atria and ventricles weren’t communicating, meaning her heart’s rhythm was very slow and irregular.
There were frequent pauses of 20-30 seconds with no heartbeats or blood flow to her body, enlarging her heart. Without getting enough blood to her brain or around her body for long periods, Nix exhibited the classic clinical signs of this condition, including collapse, episodes of weakness, and severe exercise intolerance.
Nix’s care team noticed an immediate improvement after surgery. Now the miniature donkey had enough blood flow to her brain to let her walk normally, without any fainting episodes or lethargy. The pacemaker battery will need replacing after approximately seven to nine years, but if the device continues to work well, Nix will live a normal life.
For more information visit: https://www.vet.cornell.edu/hospitals