LIVING WITH LIVER SHUNT............
NEW INFO REGARDING SH'ZEN AND HER DIAGNOSIS....
will update shortly............
This is an article written by the owner of a YORKIE with liver shunt....
The story of my baby, Sh’zen (written by Loraine )
Sh’zen was born on 23rd February 2007. I always wanted a Yorkie and so on my 50thbirthday my husband bought her for me. At the time, I am ashamed to admit, I did not do my homework about the breed or breeders. Sh’zen’s breeder was from Roodepoort.
We collected my baby 16th April 2007! I could not predict in a million years how my life was going to change from the moment her breeder placed my little bundle of joy in my arms.
Sh’zen was a playful, happy child although she was always “sickly”. There was always something wrong – from tonsillitis, to vomiting, especially after feeding, shaking (almost as if she was cold all the time). Her first visit to the vet was on 17th May 2007 – one of the many that followed thereafter – almost on a monthly basis.
On 18th December 2007 we had our little girl sterilised. I thought I did my homework this time – I spoke to various breeders/vets/reading about the safest anaesthetic. I contacted numerous vets to see if they would be able to do this important operation. We finally decided to go to, a vet we believed to have a vast knowledge on the breed – who better we thought since she is familiar with the breed!! Big mistake!!!!!! She nearly killed my child – she also did not remove, as per the norm, her milk teeth. My baby remained seriously ill for a month+ – she could not stand, walk or eat without vomiting – we rushed back on 22nd December 2007 and she was given 3 injections. On our way home from Pretoria to Boksburg my child kept on vomiting violently – the vet said not to worry this was normal????!!! This condition continued and on 26th January 2008 I took my child to a local vet. She was diagnosed with tonsillitis and we returned home with a bag of medication. By this time I have stopped all tap water and installed an Oasis water machine.
We returned to the same vet a month later, 28th March 2008 and this time there was a locum vet from Onderstepoort. She questioned me extensively about Sh’zen’s medical history and then suggested blood tests (she was amazed that none of the previous vets suggested blood tests). The morning of 29thMarch 2008 we got an urgent call from this vet to come and see her immediately. The news was not good, in fact it was devastating!!! Amongst other tests the one that was of great concern was the Bile Acids that were extremely high. She told us in no uncertain terms that Sh’zen had Porto systemic liver shunt. She also suggested that we have her admitted to Onderstepoort on 31st March 2008 for an operation to repair the shunt. Needless to say, with the episode during December still fresh in my mind, I knew that this was not the road I wanted to travel with my baby girl! I immediately went on the internet to research liver shunt and the prognosis was shocking, to say the least – very few babies survive and none of these babies as far as I could determine had this kind of operation in South Africa. This Doctor suggested a low protein diet. She did not explain what a low protein diet should consist of. I phoned a breeder friend in desperation and upon hearing the news she suggested we take our baby to a Quantum dr. - she connected my child to a computer and amazingly she confirmed exactly what Dr told us. Dr Heleen Coetzee suggested vitamins i.e. grapeseed oil, folic acid, Omega 3/6/9 and all the B vitamins. She also referred us to a vet in Kempton Park,
We took our child to him on 11th April 2008 and he did extensive blood tests – pre feed and post feed. This time the ALT/ALP clearly indicated that my child had a liver problem.
As the parents of this little precious bundle we were still not satisfied and a friend suggested that we take our child to a Prof at a Pretoria Clinic. (he has subsequently returned to Onderstepoort to lecture). We went to Prof on 21st April 2008 and he did a scan that confirmed the liver shunt. He said that no operation was required and that we could maintain her condition with medication and diet.
At this point nobody gave me any idea what this special diet should consist of – only NO protein.
We returned home, stopping on our way to buy all the organic veggies and fruit I could get hold of. I steamed all her veggies and put it through a Mouli baby – the taste was unknown to my child but we endured and for the first week I fed her with a syringe. Fortunately she has always been fed with a spoon and hence it became easier to feed her. She loves her fruit (apples, pears, banana, pawpaw, cherries, and 1 seedless, peeled grape per day. On alternative days I add 2 teaspoons of plain organic yogurt to her fruit. Breakfast consists of baby Maize porridge (we alternate between the ordinary and banana flavours). Her veggies are freshly steamed every 2nd day. I only use bottled water and we never use the microwave to warm up her food – only hot water. Her veggies consist of a selection of carrots, sweet potato, sweet corn, peas, marrows, butternut, potato – twice per week I also add 1 teaspoon of basmati rice to her food as well as 1 teaspoon of cottage cheese. My child thrives on her diet.
She has never been fond of pellets but Prof suggested Hills l/d which we have available for her permanently however she ignores this bowl completely! She also had to have chronic medication in the morning and evening (Hepavet, Ursotan and Essentiale). She also gets 2.5ml of glucose in 10ml of water – 3ml three times per day – the shaking has stopped completely.
My little girl was doing well after this and for months we only saw a vet for her normal de-worming and inoculations. She also must have a scan done annually to determine how her liver is doing. Babies with liver shunt have very small livers and they tend to lose weight rather than picking up. Fortunately my baby girl’s liver has remained stable and she has gained weight!
September 2008 I took a decision to end my career in the corporate world and became a full time Yorkie mommy. I ended the services of Sh’zen’s baby sitter and kept only my domestic worker.
On 28th December 2009 my child did not seem her normal self and when we went outside to have a pee (mommy must wipe her with a tissue when she is done) I noticed blood! We rushed to the vet and they immediately contacted a Specialist to do a scan. They discovered lots of crystals and bladder stones – apparently liver shunt babies tend to have these due to the low protein. During this time she also contracted a yeast infection and a daily dosage of Canalba vaginal cream was prescribed, this was over and above, the almost 2 weeks of daily injections.
Her condition improved slightly and she was well enough to enjoy her 3rd birthday party with all her friends on 23rd February 2010.
On the 5th April 2010 - it was a Sunday afternoon at 17H00 I saw her jumping off the couch and limping. I rushed to the vet on the Monday morning, 6thApril 2010. Dr said she must have hurt her back and was given anti-inflammatory injections for 2 days. On Wednesday, 8th April 2010 at 15H00 my child went outside to poo and when I wiped her butt, I noticed blood. I immediately rushed to the vet and he diagnosed her with a tummy bug. We went to the vet every single day over the next couple of days – injections every day. No improvement! by now my child was in so much pain and blood was dripping from her anus. On 12th April 2010 I insisted on blood tests. The next day she was diagnosed with an under active thyroid and Eltroxin was prescribed. By now I was falling apart and my stunning friend, Joyce suggested I make an appointment with Dr Garry Eckersley. I got an appointment for 29th April 2010.
By 22nd April 2010 my child was so sick with a runny tummy and lots of blood dripping from her rear end. The vet made an appointment with a Specialist at a Specialist Veterinary Centre. They did scans, x-rays, blood & urine tests. We were sent home with instructions to starve her for 24 hours, feed her half of what she normally eats the next day, increase that to ¾ on the 3rd day and normal feeding on the 4th day. More crystals and stones were found in her bladder & kidneys. By the time we left the vet I knew that there was NO WAY I was going to starve my little girl – she needed her food in order to have some kind of strength. The only thing throughout this whole ordeal was the fact that my child never refused to eat!! These vets also insisted that I stop giving her Eltroxin for a couple of days.
When we arrived home – I immediately contacted Dr Eckersley and faxed him all the results of the tests. He suggested that I continue with the Eltroxin.
The 29th April 2010 arrived and so did our appointment with Dr Eckersley. He gave her a thorough check-up, re-did the scan – found bladder stones the previous vet did not even see! Dr Eckersley changed her chronic medication completely, according to him her previous medication did absolutely nothing for her condition. As for the thyroid problem – she does not have a thyroid problem!!! Liver shunt babies will always show that there is a problem with cholesterol, thyroid etc but in reality it is all due to the shunt. He is convinced that the only thing that carried my child from March 2008 up to now has been the fact that I have worked out a perfect diet for her. She now takes Flagyl, Duphalac and Crèche Card (a multi vitamin) ½ml of each every day. I immediately started with her medication upon arriving home and by the same evening (29/4/2010) the blood stopped completely!! My child’s condition has improved tremendously. Dr Eckersley suggested that we see him on a monthly basis so that he can monitor her condition closely.
I noticed during the first week of May that my child was shaking her head a lot which normally indicates ear problems. I could see it was only the left ear. I took her to our local vet thinking that it is not a life threatening condition and she prescribed eardrops. Condition remained unchanged. The vet suggested antibiotics and pain meds which I declined because one should be very careful which medications are given to a liver shunt baby.
On 13th May 2010 we had our 2nd appointment with Dr Eckersley and I took the medication with me to show him. He took a swab from her ear and again the medication that was given to her was totally wrong!!? Within 4 dosages of the new meds the infection had clear up completely.
Our next appointment will be on 10th June 2010. I will keep the readers updated in future on a monthly basis.
I don’t know how to end this story but I need to mention:
- my child comes first and we will go to the ends of the earth to find her the help she needs.
- don’t take everything any vet tells you as the gospel truth – go for that 2nd /3rd and even 4th opinion. We have been to so many vets over the last 3 years.
- if I had to choose a baby again – I will take my child ANYDAY WITHOUT HESITATION!!! She is the most beautiful, precious bundle of pure joy every second of every day!!!