Help Fix Harley's Heart!

How can you not instantly fall in love with that face? Harley is about three months old, is goofy and full of love, but he faces a grim future if he doesn't get the surgery he needs. 
Harley has a serious congenital heart defect called pulmonic stenosis, where the junction of his heart and the large vessel taking blood to the lungs for oxygenation is severely narrowed. Harley has a very severe heart murmur, and an echocardiograph (an ultrasound of the heart) showed that Harley's abnormality is severe, as his body is already showing secondary changes due to the defect. 

But Harley is a shelter puppy, with no family to call his own, so he needs our help.  He is a resident of Madison County Animal Shelter (Marshall, NC) where he has received the best care possible with the resources available.  But if Harley's heart condition is left untreated, it will dramatically decrease his life span. He already must be rested at all times as any excitement could cause his condition to rapidly deteriorate.  Without treatment, he will eventually die of heart failure.  Even medication won't save him; he needs a procedure called balloon valvuloplasty. Unfortunately, that procedure typically costs close to $3000.  

Our goal is to raise the full amount so that we can get Harley's surgery done as soon as possible. The procedure will be performed at the  University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine's Veterinary Cardiology Department, and ultimately Harley will be adopted into a loving home.  
The Veterinary Community Outreach Program (Shelter Medicine) has graciously offered to donate $1000 towards Harley's surgery, but this money would be coming from a fund called "Helping Alachua's Animals Requiring Treatment and Surgery" (HAARTS). This fund was established in order to save Gainesville's shelter animals whose alternate fate is euthanasia, because these animals require life-saving surgery or treatment that the shelter cannot provide. Just as with any fund, resources are limited; though the donation through HAARTS would significantly contribute to Harley's treatment, we feel that it's entirely possible for us (and YOU!)  to raise the entire amount in order to allow other animals in need to get life-saving treatment.  

Any additional funds collected that are not needed to provide Harley's care will be directed to Madison County Animal Shelter, who has been so dedicated to getting Harley the help he needs.  Additional funds will be used to establish a fund for future shelter animals who require advanced medical care beyond MCAS's abilities.  

If you are able to donate even a small amount, it will help improve Harley's chances for a normal life! This little guy deserves a future, and the opportunity to enrich his future family's life! Any help at all is greatly appreciated!

*Read below for more detailed information about Harley's condition, his procedure and what his future looks like* 

So... what is Pulmonic Stenosis?
Pulmonic stenosis is a heart defect which results in blockage of blood flow from one of the heart's four chambers, called the right ventricle. This important chamber sends oxygen-poor blood to the lungs for oxygenation, so that the rest of the body can get the oxygen it needs! 
In a heart with PS, the right ventricle is basically pumping the blood out through a narrowed tube. This would be like trying to spit your soda at your little brother through a coffee stirrer (pulmonic stenosis heart) instead of a normal drinking straw (normal heart). Your mother would be mad at you regardless of the method, but you'd get a better shot at your little brother by using the regular straw than you would with the teeny tiny coffee stirrer. In comparison to a normal drinking straw, forcing the same amount of liquid through a narrowed space (like a coffee stirrer) would require your face muscles and lungs to work harder to achieve the same effect. 
Though the example is silly, it demonstrates a point. In patients with PS, the right ventricular muscle must push blood through a severely narrowed space and must push way harder to do so. Just like a body builder gains muscle mass by using heavy weights and more reps, the right ventricle's muscular walls enlarge and stiffen as they pump against the increased resistance. This lack of flexibility makes it difficult to accommodate as much blood in the ventricle, meaning that even less blood gets to the lungs for oxygenation. Eventually, if left untreated, the heart can no longer provide enough oxygenated blood to the patient's body, and the patient goes into heart failure. 

And what's a balloon valvuloplasty?

A balloon valvuloplasty is a minimally invasive procedure wherein a very long intravenous catheter with an inflatable balloon-like tip is inserted through a vein and fed into the heart. Once the catheter tip reaches the level of the narrowed valve, the balloon is inflated to spread open the area and break down any barriers to blood flow. 
This procedure isn't done blindly. Contrast material is injected in the vein, travels to the heart and by using technology called fluoroscopy (a real-time x-ray machine) the narrowed area can be localized. 

What is Harley's prognosis?

The goal of this procedure is to widen the narrowed valve in order to allow the blood to flow through the heart to the lungs with less resistance. This will decrease the amount of pressure that is currently building up in the right side of the heart. Reducing this pressure build-up below a certain threshold will decrease the clinical signs of the condition and slow down the progression of the dangerous changes to his heart. 
In most dogs who undergo this procedure, clinical signs (such as exercise intolerance and fainting) dissipate immediately, even though the secondary changes of the heart muscle may be slow to disappear or potentially be permanent. Halting the progression of the condition decreases the chance that Harley will ever experience these symptoms or progress to heart failure. 
For about one month following the procedure, Harley will need to be kept calm and only allowed short walks to potty. Harley will stay on the medication he is currently on, as it helps to regulate the heart rate and will help the heart recover after the procedure. Three months after the surgery, Harley's new parents will need to take him to a certified veterinary cardiologist for a re-check echocardiogram and EKG to evaluate how well the procedure worked and see if anything has changed. Depending on that visit, Harley may or may not be able to stop taking the medication. Thereafter, should all go well, Harley will only need yearly cardiology appointments to evaluate his condition!
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Maxie Bowen
Gainesville, FL

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