Bailey’s heart stopped beating on the operating room table for 18 minutes before WSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital emergency and critical care teams brought her back to life.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, less than 6% of dogs that experience cardiopulmonary arrest in the hospital survive and return home. Thanks to the dedication and expertise of WSU’s veterinary professionals, this 9-year-old basset hound did.
That suspenseful March afternoon, Whitney Dye, Bailey’s owner, had been anxiously awaiting a call from the teaching hospital where Bailey had been undergoing a complex spinal procedure with Dr. Carlos Valerio.
The call came – but it was not the one she expected.
“Dr. Valerio told me they’d lost Bailey and had begun CPR,” Dye said. “I thought, ‘This can’t be real, this doesn’t feel real.’ My heart was broken.”
Valerio made several more calls to Dye, including one at 16 minutes when he let her know the prognosis isn’t usually good after 20 minutes of CPR and they don’t go beyond that. Valerio asked Dye if she wanted the team to continue trying to revive Bailey until the 20-minute mark. Dye didn’t hesitate.
“I answered yes,” she said. “And, at that moment, Dr. Valerio said he saw a faint heartbeat and would call back.”
Several weeks earlier, Dr. Valerio, a neurology and neurosurgery resident, had diagnosed the 9-year-old Bassett hound with intervertebral disk disease. Medical treatment had not improved her condition and surgery was scheduled.
Though the “ventral slot” procedure to decompress her spinal cord was complex, Bailey’s surgery proceeded seamlessly. Then, it didn’t.
During closure of the initial incision, Bailey suffered cardiopulmonary arrest. Within seconds, the anesthesia team initiated chest compressions and ventilation, while the critical care team was called to the operating room. Along with chest compressions, manual ventilation and supportive drug therapy were provided. Bailey was also defibrillated twice during CPR.
“After 10 minutes of no response from Bailey, I was concerned that even at the 20-minute mark we still might not see one,” said Dr. Sabrina Hoehne, assistant professor in small animal emergency and critical care. “Then, between 10 and 20 minutes, she started having changes in her heart rhythms and making respiratory efforts and we knew there was still a possibility.”
Eighteen minutes into CPR, Bailey’s heart started beating, and she began breathing on her own.
Bailey’s caregivers were not ready, yet, to take their own deep breaths. Their patient had come through CPR, but she was in a coma.
“After Bailey’s heartbeat came back, many of us wiped away tears and we had a moment of relief,” Hoehne said. “But it was only a moment because we knew we could still lose her. Many patients suffer subsequent cardiopulmonary arrest events after resuscitation, so we had to get back to work to make sure ours didn’t slip away again.
“Bailey’s brain was not functioning normally, but we know patients can make significant neurological improvements within 72 hours after CPR. With every milestone they reach, there’s reassurance they are less likely to arrest again.”
Bailey was admitted to ICU and began reaching those milestones very quickly. Valerio called Dye at home in Kennewick to give her the good news.
“Within 20 minutes from the first call, I knew Bailey survived the CPR,” Dye said. “Then, Dr. Valerio called later and said she was stabilized in ICU. A huge weight was lifted when I heard she’d pulled through. It was like I had woken up from a nightmare.”
Just a few hours after CPR, Bailey was more alert, moving, and swallowing on her own. Within 24 hours, she was eating, walking and her kidney function had normalized. Two days later, she took a stroll outside. Then, nine days later, Bailey went home.
“At the time of discharge, she had no neurological deficits from the CPR,” Hoehne said. “She could see, respond to her environment, and wag her tail.”
Bailey’s successful recovery was the result of many factors.
“The collaboration between anesthesia and emergency and critical care during CPR was key, and Bailey was healthy other than her disc disease,” Hoehne said.
Bailey is improving daily, and she has returned to her favorite things: sunbathing, sniffing flowers and playing with her sister, Miley, also a 9-year-old basset hound.
“I’m amazed at what a fighter Bailey is,” Dye said. “You’d never tell she went through any of this. She really is the best dog.”