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Horse Loses Kidney but Returns to Competition



American athlete Aries Merritt has hit the headlines recently. He managed to run in the World Athletics Championships despite having undergone a kidney transplant. Merritt received a new kidney from his sister not long after winning the gold medal in the 100m hurdles at London 2012. Now, a grade B show jumper is rivalling Merritt’s achievement by returning to jumping after having one of his kidneys removed.



Equine Kidney Stones


Wodka Lime had suffered from kidney stones since he was 7 years of age. He had been able to continuing working and he was a reliable jumper but every few months had to visit an equine hospital to have the stones flushed out. He would jump like a fresh horse after every round of treatment.

The hospital trips had been keeping his condition under control but then, last year, he began to refuse fences. This was completely out of character and it wasn’t long before he wouldn’t tackle any fences at all.

Not Responding to Treatment


It had become apparent that they could not manage his condition any longer. Unusually, the stones had always affected only one of his kidneys and so his owners decided to have this removed. A specialist surgeon travelled from the Netherlands to help with the operation. It was the first time that surgeons had carried out the procedure on a horse in the UK.

Whilst they often remove kidneys to tackle tumours, this type of surgery has not been used previously to treat recurring stones. During the procedure, they found 12 very large stones. Nobody could believe that Wodka Lime had still been able to move let alone jump.

Serious Infection


The operation was a success but Wodka Lime then contracted a rare infection called pseudomonas which meant that he had to stay at the equine hospital for six months. At one point, he was fighting for his life.  They have not seen this type of bacterial infection in horses before and it usually affects people.

Wodka Lime’s owner couldn’t visit him during his stay at the hospital because her father had undergone surgery for a brain tumour and there would have been a risk of passing the infection to him.

The horse struggled to survive and lost 200kg in weight. He was on a drip, wasn’t eating and looked doomed. But thanks to the amazing care that he received, he eventually pulled through. Sometimes horses can battle the odds and win!

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