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Dog gets heart defrillator in $30,000 operation


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Dog gets Medtronic defibrillator like Cheney's
Associated Press

Published May 5, 2003 FIB06

PULLMAN, Wash. -- Honus the dog lacked that old spark, and the solution was a heart defibrillator.

Doctors at Washington State University's veterinary hospital operated on the canine Thursday to insert the device, similar to the one that regulates the heart of Vice President Dick Cheney.

The $30,000 operation was a success, with the device regulating the heartbeat of the 2-year-old dog, named for baseball player Honus Wagner.

``Now Honus is our most expensive piece of technology,'' said owner Bryan MacDonald. ``He's worth more than our computer.''

Honus was diagnosed with ventricular tachycardia, in which the lower ventricles of the heart beat abnormally and can trigger a heart attack. It caused him to be weak and vomit.

Until now, the only treatment was to bring Honus to the hospital for lidocaine shots. His attacks grew so frequent, the MacDonalds had to come to the emergency room every two weeks.

The metal unit, the size of a 9-volt battery, can sense when the heart's rhythm changes. If the beats grow irregular, the device sends out a shock, resetting the heart at a normal rate.

The device isn't used much on dogs because of the cost of the unit and the surgery.

In Honus' case, Fridley, Minn.-based Medtronic Inc. agreed to donate the $15,000 defibrillator as well as two $6,000 leads. The MacDonalds will pay for a portion of the $2,500 surgery and hospital costs.

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