The Unsinkable Molly Brown
A complete heart block is one in which there is no electrical conduction between the atria and ventricles. It is a grave condition. The ventricles fall into "rescue mode" and keep the body alive with a greatly reduced inherent rhythm of their own. Unfortunately, the suction of blood into the ventricles versus the pumping of blood into the ventricles by the atria creates a very strong probability of clot formation from the churning of the blood itself. The clots lead to further coronary artery blockage, cardiac ischemia, and death. A complete heart block is a condition that on humans, demands a pacemaker.
Unfortunately, Molly was a dog. She was, in fact, a beautiful chocolate Labrador Retriever. Further, she was a proven Search and Rescue dog with a career of finding disaster victims and murder victims. Owners Allen and Alicia Brown of Saginaw Michigan were facing over $2,500 in surgery, vet and travel costs alone. Through donations including a two thousand dollar donation from an anonymous businessman, a plan of care was devised. Medtronic Inc. donated the internal pacer. On May 22, 2008, surgeons at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine implanted the lifesaving device. Molly was the one rescued this time.
Molly is on activity restrictions for another month, but is expected to make a full recovery and return to K-9 search and rescue work. Training a search and rescue dog for both live body and cadaver retrieval can take up to two years. Buying a fully trained SAR dog can cost up to $20,000. "If she could save one more life or recover one more body for a family, it would be worth it," said Patrice Graham, another member of the K-9 SAR team.