Kyah, a 6-month-old giraffe will be in my prayers tomorrow as she undergoes a risky surgery to fix a terminal birth defect that affects her ability to eat. The special needs giraffe lives with her mother at the Oklahoma City Zoo and officials say the young giraffe will likely die from the heart defect that constricts her esophagus, if she doesn’t undergo the procedure.
Dr. Gretchen Cole, the associate zoo veterinarian, reported that Kyah suffers from a condition called a Persistent Right Aortic Heart that won’t allow her to digest most solid foods. Zoo veterinarians first noticed the problem when Kyah was only 6-weeks-old and had trouble keeping down her mother’s milk. When she transitioned to solid food, the regurgitation got worse.
Cole says the giraffe has a 50 percent chance of surviving the surgery, but she has no chance without it. While the procedure has never been performed before on a giraffe, the zoo feels confident with the veterinary team they have put together.
“Veterinarians at the zoo are knowledgeable about working with giraffes and the veterinarians who will perform the surgery are skilled at doing the procedure,” said Cole.
Kyah’s surgery is scheduled for Tuesday, April 8 at Oklahoma State University’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences.
Officials plan to have the baby giraffe back at the zoo soon after the surgery so she can be with her mother while recuperating. If all goes well, they expect Kyah to be on her feet within two weeks.
Please keep good thoughts tomorrow for this very sick giraffe.
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Photo Credit: Oklahoma City Zoo