Boise veterinarian performs life-saving surgery on boy's service puppy

BOISE - A Boise veterinarian successfully performed life-saving surgery on a six-week-old puppy suffering from a fatal heart defect.

The Labrador retriever named Phillip is in training to become an autism service dog for a 7-year-old Jakson Thiel.

Phillip was originally surrendered to a Boise veterinarian after he was diagnosed with Persistent Right Aortic Arch (PRAA), a somewhat rare congenital defect of the blood vessels of the heart.

While further testing was conducted, the puppy was put into foster care. It was then that Jakson was introduced to Phillip. The boy and his newfound friend hit it off immediately.

Jakson's dad, Cody Thiel, had been considering adopting a rescue to train as an autism service dog for Jakson.

“Something told me it was the right dog, at the right time," he said. "The two of them met and immediately bonded.” 

Meanwhile, a cardiologist at WestVet confirmed the PRAA diagnosis, and decided that the best option for Phillip’s survival was to perform the corrective heart surgery.

WestVet surgeon, Dr. Jeff Brourman, was consulted for the surgery and upon hearing the story of Phillip and Jakson, agreed to donate his services.

“It was above and beyond anything any of us could have expected,” Thiel said.

Brourman said the decision to help was an easy one.

"Seeing a picture of Jakson and Phillip together, it was clear to see how much they already bonded," he said. "We needed to do what we could to help make sure Phillip would survive."

Phillip is now thriving and living with Jakson.

“He’s doing so well. He calms Jakson down," Thiel said. "He’s already helped him with his night and sensory issues, it’s just beautiful to see. When Jakson tells me, ‘Phillip is my friend for life Daddy,' I just can’t thank everyone who made this happen enough.”  

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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