Six-year-old Eric admitted to pet emergency hospital in Swindon for 30-minute operation

A devoted pet owner rushed her goldfish to Great Western Exotics after he developed a life-threatening tumour on his jaw.

Owner Katja Serrer-Fort was determined to get her fish, called Eric, the best possible care.

So Katja, 19, from Calne, Wilts, searched the internet for a vet with experience of treating fish.

She ferried Eric in his tank to GWE, which is part of the Vets Now pet emergency hospital in Swindon, where avian and exotics veterinary surgeon Dr Tariq Abou-Zahr examined him.

Tariq and his team then anesthetised Eric before carrying out intricate surgery to cut out the tumour.

Eric is a six-inch long oranda goldfish – a breed of the species which has a bubble-type hood on its head.

In Eric’s case the hood, known as a wen, had grown over his eyes, preventing him from seeing.

So, while Eric was still under anaesthetic, Tariq trimmed back the wen to help him see again.

The painstaking surgery took around half an hour to perform.

And around an hour later, once Eric had recovered from the anaesthetic had worn off, he was taken home again.

Tariq sent the tumour to a pathologist for medical examination – and it turned out to be non-malignant.

But relieved Katja said: “If Tariq hadn’t done the operation and the tumour was malignant then Eric would have died.

“I know people might think this is a lot of trouble to go to for a goldfish.

“But I don’t see it that way. If you had a dog or a cat then they would be part of your family.

“Well, it’s the same with Eric. We’ve had him for six years. He’s part of our family and I wanted to do everything I could to keep him alive and help his quality of life.

“Not much of the wen could be removed because his blood pressure dropped during surgery, but it was still worth trying.

“When you’ve got a poorly goldfish I think most people don’t realise that there are vets who can help.

“These kind of operations are quite common in the USA I think, but not so common in the UK so it’s important to raise awareness for other owners.”

Image of a goldfish for Vets Now article on fish tumour
Eric on the operating table

Tariq explained how the operation was carried out. He said: “We put a tube into the fish’s mouth to deliver oxygenated water and anaesthetic over the fish’s gills to keep it asleep.

“Clearly, a very small creature like this won’t have a lot of blood in its system so we had to keep the blood loss to an absolute minimum.

“We used electronic forceps to control the fish’s blood loss during the operation. We were very pleased with the results of the procedure.”

Tariq added: “This is a very unusual case and I think I’ve only operated on three or four goldfish in my career.

“Katja is clearly very attached to her goldfish. We totally understand that and were very happy to help.”

Great Western Exotics is renowned for its work with avian and exotic animals. Based in Swindon and part of Vets Now, it’s one of the only full-time staffed, veterinary services of its kind in the country.

The hospital is also one of three Vets Now pet emergency hospitals across the UK that are open through the night, seven-days-a-week, and day and night on weekends and bank holidays, to treat any pet emergencies that may occur.

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