George the Goldfish
Credit: Nicole Dorling, Lort Smith / Used with Permission

Nah, It Wasn't a Brain Tumour

But it was a large tumour protruding from the top of George's head

Since Paw, Mane 'n Fin includes fish, I thought I'd seek out a good fish tale to tell you about. When I perused Veterinary Practice News, I spotted the headline Veterinarian Wins High Praise for Saving Goldfish.

Ah, but here's the kicker: numerous reports have incorrectly stated it was a brain tumour (when it wasn't). However, it was a sizable tumour growing on the head of the beloved goldfish named George. The surgery was an intensive 45-minute long procedure that took place on September 10th, 2014 at Lort Smith Animal Hospital.

Lort Smith Animal Hospital is located in North Melbourne, Australia and is the largest not-for-profit animal hospital in the country. Animal-welfare advocate Louisa Lort Smith (1875-1956) founded the hospital in 1936. Today, over 30 veterinarians and 40 nurses make up the staff at the 11-ward hospital which includes an Exotic and Native Wildlife Unit.

George's Surgeon is Dr. Tristan Rich

Head of Exotics and Wildlife Medicine at Lort Smith

Dr. Rich joined the team at Lort Smith in 2007. He has adopted several creatures from the animal hospital over the years including a Staffordshire bull terrier cross (aka staffy cross) named Cybil, a rabbit named Chiko, and three chickens (aka chooks). If that weren't enough, he also keeps a carpet python (Morelia spilota) called Fantus, a bearded dragon, a short neck turtle, a small fish tank, and eight green tree frogs.

About George the Goldfish

Dr. Rich explained in The Telegraph that George was "having trouble eating, getting around and he was getting bullied by other fish."

It saddened me to learn that other fish bullied George.

One of George's owners, Lyn Orton realized she couldn't bear to see her 10-year old goldfish suffer any longer. So, Dr. Rich offered George's owners two options: attempt to remove the tumour from George's skull or have him euthanized.

Fortunately, they opted for the surgery which was a success. 

And I'm sure it wasn't an easy procedure, either. George only weighs about 80 grams (2.82 ounces). Dr. Rich humbly described the 45-minute microsurgical procedure as "quite fiddly."

George about to have tumour removed by Dr. Rich
Credit: Nicole Dorling, Lort Smith / Used with Permission

How Dr. Rich Removed George's Tumour

Immediately I wondered how on earth will they manage to keep this fish out of water long enough to even do the surgery.

Well, it turns out that this was a carefully orchestrated procedure requiring three different buckets of water. One bucket contained anaesthetic, one had a maintenance level of anaesthetic in it, and one had clean water in it for use as the "recovery room."

Tumour removedNicole Dorling, Lort Smith

Once George was asleep, a tiny tube was fed into George's mouth to allow the maintenance level of "anaesthetic water" to continuously wash over his gills. Dr. Rich worked fast to scrape the tumour off George's skull which proved to be a challenging area to close up. A gelatine sponge was needed to control bleeding.

Once the bleeding was under control, Dr. Rich delicately placed four tiny sutures and tissue glue to seal the wound. After a spell of time (needed to ensure the surgical site wouldn't split open), George was placed in recovery. He was given pain relief injections and antibiotics. 

Shortly afterwards, George began to breathe on his own and started to swim about. 

Author's note: I wish to thank Lort Smith Animal Hospital for granting me permission to use photos by Nicole Dorling for this article.

One of George's Buckets of Water
Credit: Nicole Dorling, Lort Smith / Used with Permission

Find Out More About George's Surgery

The Lort Smith Animal Hospital was kind enough to explain the procedure and answer questions about it (and George) on their Lort Smith Non-Profit Organization facebook page.

On September 14th, 2014 the Lort Smith team reported, "George is still alive and happily back in his home pond."

I viewed numerous videos and decided the one by DailyWorldNews was the most explanatory (shown next).

If you would like to support the Lort Smith Animal Hospital, there are numerous ways you can help. As a not-for-profit facility, they receive no government assistance. And yet, every day over 100 animals/creatures are given expert veterinary care and shelter. 

The Lort Smith Animal Hospital has Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status meaning all donations over $2 are tax deductible. When I read their information page about how donations help, I found out that just $1 a day will cover the cost of an emergency surgery for a severely injured animal.

The Most Explanatory Video of George's Surgery

Published on September 16th, 2014 by DailyWorldNews

NOTE: Again, it wasn't a brain tumour, it was a tumour protruding from George's head.

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