The taxi journey that should have taken ten minutes lasted already over half an hour and I was seriously wondering if the price quoted : “Diecisiete!” – seventeen – referred indeed to Soles (= circa 4$) or in fact to US Dollars.
The taxi from Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima had been paid in Dollars and also my hotel bill was settled that way. If Peru’s capital operated somewhere in a grey sone between the two currencies it could in the end be a costly surprise (for Peruvian standards)….
Finally we arrived in front of the Canis Minor Veterinary Clinic and my driver happily accepted my 20 Soles note as payment in full including a tip…..
Gilberto Bendezu Armas was already waiting for me in front of his clinic and was genuinely upset when he realised that I had already settled the fare.
“Gibi “ is running an orthopaedic referral practice in this part of Lima and somewhat similar to Peace Street in Hongkong, veterinary practices are located here virtually next door to another in one street – that makes at least the referral process very straight forward.
With not much ado I am taken straight away on a tour of the premises which feature just a small reception area
and a couple of minimalistic cubicles, plus an inpatient area and – of course – the operating theatre.
This is a very functional set up but it is meeting all the needs for Gibi’s patients.
The first one we meet a couple of doors down the road after he has just been admitted: a medium sized mixed breed dog that has been run over by a car and that has sustained a complex frontlimb fracture involving the right elbow joint. Thankfully it is not an open fracture, so that external stabilisation and adaquate pain relief will be sufficient and the procedure can be scheduled for the next day.
While a young Weimeraner wearing a body suit following her neutering procedure is been seen out with her owner,
we are called into the operating theatre. Here we are presented with an all too common surgical emergency:
a 3 year old cat has first played with and then eaten a piece of string and this is now strangulating the whole of the small intestine starting at the pylorus (the opening of the stomach that leads into the intestine).
The tissue is so far not too compromised, but following a diagnostic radiograph, the team (in this case all men – something we rarely see in a Northern European clinic these days) took the only right decision to perform an operation without delay.
Within a very short period of time these foreign bodies cause severe damage to the gut and not too seldom the tissue tears and digested food is leaking into the abdomen or the intestine is so damaged that a part has to be removed. And it is needless to say that this is an extremely painful condition.
This time the offending piece of string is very fast localised and with the help of two small incisions (one in the stomach and one in the end of the small intestine) cut and removed. A remaining piece that has already reached the large intestine is left where it was as it will exit the body without further help….
Providing the cat will not develop any postoperative infections, the prognosis is extremely good and there is a good chance for a full recovery.
Although the surgical case load appears to be very similar in Lima compared to us in Europe, the cost for these procedures (somewhat in line with the general cost of living) are considerably lower. A normal consultation is costing circa 15 $/12£ and operations are usually priced in the lower hundreds rather than in thousands of dollars. For orthopaedic procedures cheaper Chinese implants are used rather than European or North American hardware.
There is no pet insurance in Peru and only very limited options exist for the treatment of the large number of homeless pets.
So – is it such a bad life to be a pet in Lima ?……