US vet flies in for three-hour operation on acid attack filly

  • A US vet flew to Britain to join UK colleagues as they operated on the filly injured in a suspected acid attack.

    Rainbow Equine Hospital had consulted Jamie Peyton, of the University of California, as staff were aware of her “pioneering” new veterinary treatments for burns and pain control.

    They were particularly interested in tilapia fish-skin dressings she had been using for animals, so were investigating means of shipping them to Britain.

    “Jamie went one better and offered to bring them in person with the support of University of California Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital,” said Dave Rendle, Rainbow equine medicine specialist.

    Cinders, who had been attracting widespread media attention since she was found with horrific facial injuries last week (24 April) was anaesthetised at 7pm yesterday (1 May).


    Mr Rendle was joined by Rainbow’s equine surgery specialist Jonathan Anderson and veterinary anaesthesia specialist Kate Loomes as well as Dr Peyton and human burns and plastic surgeon Ryckie Wade, who donated their time and funded their own travel.

    “Cinders is the first horse in the world with burn injuries to be treated with the tilapia bandages,” Mr Rendle said, adding that the team removed the filly’s previous dressings, cleaned and debrided her wounds and used cold laser and pulsed electromagnetic field therapy to decrease pain and inflammation, kill bacteria, improve blood flow and encourage lymphatic drainage. The tilapia dressings were then applied.


    “The surgery took approximately three hours,” Mr Rendle said. “Cinders recovered from anaesthesia within 30 minutes and, true to form, was back in her stable eating within an hour.

    “The tilapia dressings may remain in place for up to 10 days, and further treatment may be required. Her prognosis is good and she is unlikely to be left with any permanent health problems but she will require many weeks of wound management.”

    Tilapia fish-skin dressings were first used on humans in Brazil by doctors looking for cost-effective treatments. They are suitable for animals as they are robust, long-lasting and infection-resistant, and far cheaper than other human burns dressings.

    Mr Rendle said he and his colleagues are grateful for extensive donations made by the public towards Cinders’ care.

    “All vet and nurse time has been donated by Rainbow Equine Hospital and donations to date have been put towards medicines, consumables and primarily dressings for Cinders’ treatment,” he said. “Some of these materials are now also being donated and if we are left with a cash surplus, this will be used for future abandonment cases brought to us by the RSPCA.

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    “It remains impossible to accurately estimate the final cost of Cinders’ treatment but we are confident we can ensure her the best of care with the money donated to date and have therefore closed the Just Giving site.

    “We don’t want to turn away support for equine welfare cases and would urge anyone touched by Cinders’ story to make a donation to one of the charities working hard not only to deal with individual cases of cruelty, but also to educate and to tackle the underlying issues that lead to the neglect and abandonment of hundreds of horses every year. There are wider issues that need to be addressed and funding is required to prevent horses from being neglected and abandoned, rather than treating them after the event.

    “We would also urge people to support the pioneering work being performed by Dr Peyton to develop affordable treatments for burns patients, both veterinary and human. These treatments not only have the potential to help veterinary patients but may well have direct benefits to human patients, particularly in the developing world.”

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