Our Community

Ice finds his forever home with the Surgeon who saved his life

Meet four-month-old rescue kitten, Ice. Ice came to us for treatment of his Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA). Little did our Head of Surgery know that she would be taking him home!

What is a PDA and why is it life-threatening?

During the foetal stage, the lungs are not needed to add oxygen to the blood. A connection (Ductus Arteriosus) between two major blood vessels allows blood to bypass the lungs. This connecting vessel should close within a few days of birth allowing blood to flow to the lungs. If this connecting vessel fails to close it is referred to as patent – hence Patent Ductus Arteriosus. Blood continuing to flow through the PDA creates a very characteristic sound (heart murmur).

The presence of a PDA means that the lungs cannot add enough oxygen to the blood. The heart has to work much harder and heart failure sets in. Eventually, this poses a threat to life.

How is a PDA treated?

A PDA can be treated using non-surgical techniques. But given Ice’s small size, surgery was the only realistic option. In PDA ligation surgery, the surgeon dissects around the PDA to make it accessible. And then ties it off using silk. This is high risk and challenging surgery because the PDA occurs between two vital blood vessels. PDAs bleed easily which can be fatal. In Ice’s case, the surgery was even more challenging because Ice was only 2.2 Kg at the time!

Ligatures (pieces of silk) tied around blood vessel

How did it go for Ice?

Unfortunately despite careful dissection Ice’s PDA started bleeding heavily. We gave him a blood transfusion while our surgeons continued to try to close the PDA and stop the bleeding using special clips. All seemed well, the bleeding had stopped, and Ice’s heart murmur had disappeared. We recovered Ice in our Cat Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Initially, all seemed fine. But then Ice started to deteriorate. Two days later, a scan of Ice’s heart confirmed our fears that his heart murmur had returned. The clips placed around the PDA had slipped and the connection between the blood vessels was open once again.

It was even more difficult to make the next decision. Do we risk further surgery with greater risks than before? Or do we choose medical treatment knowing full well that this would result in a shortened life span for Ice? After much discussion within Team Ralph and with Ice’s rescue charity, Friends of Animals Wales, we reached a decision – we would go ahead and carry out further surgery. Despite all of the risks, the second surgery went well. The PDA was successfully closed. Ice needed a further blood transfusion and critical support from our Emergency + Critical Care team to aid his recovery. But each day he showed signs of continuous improvement.

Ice recovering from surgery in our Cat Ward


It didn’t take much for his fighting spirit to capture the heart of our Head of Surgery, Daniella. So much so, that Ice is now a permanent member of her family!

Ice continues to defy the odds and is leading a very full and active life, now fully settled into his new home with Daniella.

Ice settles into his new home


Congratulations Ice and Daniella!

Thank you for taking the time to read about Ice’s story. If you would like to find out more about our Soft Tissue Surgery Service, please click on the link.

Stay tuned for more tales from Team Ralph!

Take care,

Team Ralph

One reply to “Ice finds his forever home with the Surgeon who saved his life”

  1. Ghost says:

    So happy to hear my brother is doing well and has a fabulous forever home. Thank you so much for saving his life and giving him the best chance. All our love Ghost, mummy Sabrina and foster humom x

Leave a comment