Ophthalmologist Performs Surgery to Help Save Young Cheetah's Eye at Cheetah Conservation Fund

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An eye doctor from Windhoek, Namibia, donates his services to operate on Khayjay, a young male cheetah living in Cheetah Conservation Fund's sanctuary.

Dr. Petrick operates on Khayjay's eye on Jan. 6, 2015

"We don't have many verterinarian specialists in the country, so have an interested human specialist in wonderful. Having healthy eyes and clear vision is just as important to cheetahs as it is for people." - Dr. Laurie Marker

Dr. Léart Petrick, a Windhoek eye specialist with a practice focused on serving humans, recently travelled to Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) to perform an operation on a different kind of patient. Khayjay, a four-and-a-half-year-old cheetah that has lived at CCF since he was three weeks of age, successfully underwent a 45-minute surgery to address a chronic, debilitating eye problem.

“Khayjay’s left eye was creating excessive amounts of discharge, causing him discomfort and interfering with his vision,” said CCF veterinarian Dr. Mari-Ann DaSilva. “When Khayjay was not responding to our initial treatment protocol, we decided to examine him thoroughly under anaesthesia.”

Dr. Da Silva consulted with Dr. Petrick, who agreed that surgery was the best option. The operation was performed at CCF on Jan. 6, with Dr. Petrick bringing his own special ophthalmology tools. Dr. Petrick has practiced in Windhoek for approximately 10 years and occasionally makes his services available to assist veterinarians with domestic animals. Khayjay’s surgery marks the first time he has operated on a cheetah.

“Khayjay’s problem is the result of long-term inflammation, and the procedure I performed is fairly simple,” said Dr. Petrick. “Khayjay seemed to respond well to the surgery. We anticipate he will make a quick recovery and have full use of the eye.”

During the surgery, Khayjay’s third eyelid was sutured shut to act as a natural bandage. It will remain closed for a few weeks to allow the eye to heal. Eye ointment is being applied five times a day. “The sutures are absorbable and will dissolve on their own. At that time, his eye should be well into the healing process and function normally,” said Dr. Da Silva.

“We are so pleased to have a resource like Dr. Petrick in the community who is willing to step outside of his normal practice and donate his services to help us with one of our orphan cheetahs,” said Dr. Laurie Marker, Founder and Executive Director of CCF. “We don’t have many veterinarian specialists in the country, so having an interested human specialist is wonderful. Having healthy eyes and clear vision is just as important to cheetahs as it is for people.”

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SUSAN E YANNETTI

Dr. Laurie Marker
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