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Vet Gazette

Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine eNewsletter

Leilani celebrates a year of life

January 4th, 2011
Dr. Clarke, Leilani, Jeannine Marshall, Drs. Séguin and Simpson.

Dr. Clarke, Leilani, Jeannine Marshall, Drs. Séguin and Simpson.

The Lois Bates Acheson Small Animal Reception lobby was filled with celebration December 7 when client Jeannine Marshall arrived with all the trappings for a birthday party to celebrate the first birthday of her beloved dog, a Sheltie named Leilani Pearl. Marshall and the staff of the teaching hospital had much to celebrate because early in Leilani’s life there were times that some feared she may not make it through the surgeries needed to correct her cleft palate, a birth defect that was discovered when she was just a few weeks old. By then Marshall had selected Leilani and bonded with her. When the breeder asked her if she still wanted to keep Leilani once the cleft palate was discovered, Marshall did not hesitate to say yes.

After several inquiries, Marshall was referred to OSU’s veterinary teaching hospital where she met with small animal surgeon Dr. Bernard Séguin who gave her hope that Leilani’s defect could be repaired. He explained that her condition was serious and would take a series of operations to obtain the goal of complete correction. Marshall was willing to do whatever was needed to help Leilani live a full life. She understood that without the surgeries, Leilani would not survive.

Dr. Séguin described the process, “Leilani first had a feeding tube placed so she could get adequate nutrition without having food go in her nose or lungs. She was also too young at first to have the surgery to repair the defect. There were four major surgical procedures done to repair the defect and one minor surgery. Because the defect was getting smaller after each surgical procedure, we remained cautiously confident we could repair the defect adequately. Surgeries involved taking tissues from her body (mouth, neck and abdominal wall) and bring those into the defect to close it.”

Leilani’s care spanned from March to November 2010. Some visits were very short (outpatient) and others were quite long (10 days) to allow good recovery from surgery.

“In the end, it has been a great success,” said Dr. Séguin. “It was a hard road at times and Leilani went through a lot to be better. Leilani can now eat and drink without a feeding tube. Leilani’s spirit was undeterred and she has remained the most incredible patient throughout all of her visits and treatments. Ms. Marshall was also the most understanding owner, and incredibly dedicated. What an amazing experience for all of us.”

Marshall praised the teaching hospital and its staff: “we were treated well and with great concern for Leilani’s and my well-being. The care from staff was phenomenal.”

Leilani's Hawaiian birthday cake.

At the celebration, Marshall visited with clinicians and staff, passed out buttons with Leilani’s photo on them and gave out pieces of a Hawaiian-flavored cake. The area was decorated with flowers, balloons and a collage of photographs documenting Leilani’s surgery and recovery. Staff appreciated seeing Leilani again as they had grown quite fond of her. In honor of her birthday they gifted Marshall and Leilani with a beautiful framed photograph of Leilani taken by Jennifer Gartner, a veterinary technician who cared for her along with many other technicians and staff.

In honor of the successful surgeries and one-year milestone, Marshall purchased a stone paver to be engraved and placed with others in front of Magruder Hall. It reads:


A fitting and lasting tribute to Leilani and the VTH clinicians and staff.

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