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Translation: One Cure

Some say that cats have nine lives. A loveable Newfoundland named Hannah may have begged to differ. After Randall (’68) and Susan Ward rescued the dog from an early life of neglect, the dog was struck with a life-threatening diagnosis of heart disease at age five in 1999. Fortunately for the dog and her owners, Hannah benefited from the groundbreaking work of Dr. Bruce Keene, a cardiology professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM). Keene led a team of experts to perform artificial heart valve replacement surgery and successfully save the canine, adding five years to her life.

Honoring Hannah

When the new Randall B. Terry, Jr. Companion Animal Veterinary Medical Center opens in 2010, a bronze statue of Hannah will welcome those to the Hannah Heart Center. One of nine specialty heart pavilions in the nation, the state-of-the-art center was made possible by the Wards’ $1.5 million gift of coastal property. At the center, the three board-certified veterinary cardiologists in the CVM’s Cardiology Service will continue to develop new treatments not just for animals but also humans with congenital and acquired heart disease.

Through the work performed on Hannah, doctors learned that valve replacement can work in dogs, proving to them that the same treatments could very well benefit humans. This medical one-two punch is known as translational — or one medicine — combining expertise in complex issues that affect animal and human health.

“Ultimately, what proves effective in animals could also be used in humans,” says Keene. The CVM will also gain much-needed additional space to attend to the 1,800 cardiology patients they treat each year with a range of diagnostic and therapeutic tools, including drug regimens and installation of pacemakers and heart catheters. Indeed, the Hannah Heart Center will enable man — and man’s best friend — to beat the odds.