Parents save doctor’s dog’s life to thank him for saving their baby’s life

Mattia with Budu
The doctors saved Mattia’s life (Picture: Heidi Ferasin / SWNS)

The vet parents of a baby saved by a heart operation have returned the favour by curing the doctor’s pet dog who was suffering from the same condition.

Mattia Ferasin, now four, was born with a hole in his heart and underwent a seven-hour operation to save his life. One of the cardiac surgeons on the team – Dr Caner Salih – revealed his French bulldog Büdu coincidentally had the same heart problem. And when Mattia’s parents Luca and Heidi – both veterinary cardiologists – found out, they offered to treat the pup and nurse him back to health.
Now Büdu and Mattia have both made a full recovery, and are the best of friends. Heidi, 38, from Four Marks, Hampshire, said: ‘We are forever indebted to the whole team of doctors who helped Mattia.

‘Without their skill and knowledge of all the staff we are well aware that we wouldn’t have Mattia with us now.

Mattia at Evelina London, May 2016.
Mattia at Evelina London, May 2016. (Picture: Heidi Ferasin / SWNS)

‘This is our way of giving something back because no words can ever express the gratitude that we feel.

‘We have always felt that we owe all the staff so much.

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‘We are very aware that without their skill, passion and compassion, Mattia may not be here today.

‘Thanks to the surgery and the ongoing care of the cardiology team, Mattia is a thriving, healthy and happy little boy who just celebrated his fourth birthday.’

Dr Salih, 58, added: ‘Büdu has now made a full recovery. He’s not the brightest dog in the world but he’s family.’ Mattia was born at St Thomas Hospital in London with a hole in his heart and a narrow aorta that was limiting the blood supply to the lower half of his body.
The conditions – a ventricular septal defect and coarctation of the aorta – were picked up 20 weeks into Heidi’s pregnancy.
Mattia loves Budu
Mattia with his best friend Budu (Picture: Heidi Ferasin / SWNS)
Mattia was operated on at the adjoining Evelina London Children’s Hospital when he was six days old, in March 2015. Mum-of-two Heidi, who also has a son Dante, seven, said: ‘When we found out about the heart condition it was really frightening to hear.

‘We struggled with the unknown and the uncertainty of it. We knew that when he was born he would have to undergo risky surgery.

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‘We had no idea what his quality of life would be like afterwards.’

Doctors had warned his parents there was a 10% chance of Mattia not surviving the risky open heart surgery.

The seven-and-a-half hour operation was led by Dr David Anderson and was a success – and Mattia went on to make a full recovery.

Mattia spent five days in intensive care but remarkably, was allowed to go home for the first time six days after surgery.

Heidi said: ‘It was horrible to see him like that in intensive care.

‘We sat by his side and there was nothing we could do. The surgery took longer than we thought it would so we got really worried.

‘When we first saw him, after the operation, it was a traumatic sight. There were lots of tubes and cables and he looked very swollen.

Dr Caner and Budu with Luca and Mattia.
Dr Caner and Budu with Luca and Mattia (Picture: Heidi Ferasin / SWNS)

‘I broke down in tears because he had survived the surgery. He came through it and that was a massive relief.

‘Now he is a happy, healthy, thriving ray of sunshine.

‘Life is happy and we have two happy little boys.’

While medics were treating Mattia, Heidi and Luca became friendly with the medical team. After the op, one of the cardiac surgeons, Dr Caner Salih, told them he had a bulldog who was suffering from a heart murmur.

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So out of the goodness of their hearts, Luca and Heidi invited Büdu and Dr Salih to the surgery, Lumbry Park Veterinary Specialists, to try to find out what was wrong. Incredibly, Luca discovered Büdu was in fact suffering with one of the same heart defect as Mattia.

Unlike Mattia, Büdu didn’t require surgery and so Luca provided Dr Salih with a number of management options for how to care for his dog at home and regular check-ups.

And when the pair returned a year later, Luca was shocked to find Büdu’s hole in his heart closed without surgery.

Luca, 54, said: ‘When the image of the defect appeared on the screen of my ultrasound machine during Büdu’s examination, I was so surprised because it was one of the same congenital defects that Mattia had.

‘Büdu’s defect closed within a year, which was even more surprising.

‘This outcome has only been reported in a couple of cases in veterinary history.’

Mattia and Büdu are now friends for life and have frequently met up for play dates.

Heidi and Luca took part in a 160ft abseil to raise money for Evelina London Children’s Hospital earlier this month.

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Mattia, his seven-year-old brother Dante and grandmother Geraldine Cooper cheered the fundraisers on from below.

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