Life-Saving Surgery Update

Blackfire Recovering Comfortably

November 7, 2018

Blackfire is on the road to recovery after receiving life-saving emergency surgery at Kansas State University on Tuesday, November 6. The 2-year-old white tiger is currently staying in a recovery enclosure at our on-site veterinary hospital. He will spend two weeks there healing, receiving much-needed pain medication, and being closely observed by our staff veterinarian. After two weeks he will be evaluated to see if he is healed enough to return to his habitat and sisters.

On Friday, November 2, Turpentine Creek announced that Blackfire needed surgery due to a severe hiatal hernia. Dr. Kellyn Sweely had diagnosed Blackfire’s hernia but knew that we did not have the proper equipment or team to perform such an invasive surgery in our on-site veterinary hospital. The operation required a full team of anesthesiologists, specialized equipment, and a full veterinary team. We reached out to Dr. James Carpenter at KSU to oversee the surgery. We have worked with Dr. Carpenter and KSU in the past and know that he is the best in his field.

During the procedure, the KSU team found that Blackfire had a large hole in his diaphragm and that his stomach, spleen, colon, and intestines had pushed into his chest cavity. They believe that he had a birth defect that caused the diaphragm to be weak in a large section causing the hernia as he grew and had bowel issues related to his Metabolic Bone Disease. Luckily, we caught the hernia issue in time, and his intestines were still healthy. If his intestines or stomach had lost circulation, he would have died.

The KSU veterinary team was able to attach his stomach to his abdominal wall and close the hole in his diaphragm. As long as he rests throughout his two week recovery period, he should not have any lasting issues due to the hernia and live a long happy life here at the Refuge.

The cost for the surgery, aftercare, travel, and medication was estimated at $9,000. TCWR put a call out to our supporters on Friday to raise the money for the unexpected expense, and our donors quickly came to our aid. Within a few short hours, we had raised the needed amount to make sure Blackfire could get the care he desperately needed.

Thank you to all the supporters who liked, shared, commented, and donated to help Blackfire!

It is thanks to your support that we are able to give these animals a chance at a long, happy, healthy life with us.  We couldn’t do what we do without you!

Blackfire says “chuff chuff chuff,” which we are pretty sure means “thank you for saving my life!”