When Dr. Marcus Jarbo, director of pediatric minimally invasive surgery at CS Mott Children’s Hospital, approached the Detroit Zoo to perform therapeutic surgery on a newborn chimpanzee, he took the opportunity to cure an unconventional patient.
A premature chimpanzee named Zane has evolved inguinal hernia – painful bulge of tissue developing in the groin area – five weeks after his birth, in January 2020. For unknown reasons, Zayn’s mother showed no interest in her newborn, so a team of caregivers began taking additional taking care of Zane in the first weeks. After Dr. Ann Duncan, director of the Detroit Zoo Health Department, and the team discovered Zane’s inguinal hernia, they turned to Mott for help.
“Chimpanzee anatomy and human anatomy are very similar and the equipment needed for newborn patients is specialized, “Duncan wrote in an email to The Michigan Daily.” For these reasons, we contacted a pediatric surgeon who has experience in noninvasive laparoscopic recovery techniques. ”
Unlike an open hernia, laparoscopic method allows the surgeon to visualize the hernia defect without making a large incision over the site of surgery. A chamber called a laparoscope is inserted through the incision, and the surgeon uses an image that is broadcast on a monitor to guide doctors during the procedure.
For his first non-human surgery, Jarbo said he decided to use the laparoscopic method because of his experience in minimally invasive surgery. He also said the sight helps better visualize the anatomy.
“I do most of my (surgeries) laparoscopically, and I think hernias are easier to do laparoscopically,” Jarbo said. “I could more easily understand anatomy with a sight.”
Jarbo also said that pediatric surgeons have extensive experience in performing operations on human patients who are similar to Zayn, so many procedures can be performed in the same way on primate animals.
“Zane was somewhere around three pounds,” Jarbo said. “It’s the same size we usually work on.”
In addition to the two pediatric anesthesiologists who assisted in the operation, Jarbo said he invited senior pediatric surgeon Dr. Ronald Hirschl and two pediatric anesthesiologists to perform the operation with him. He said inviting pediatric anesthesiologists was important because of their experience in endotracheal tube insertion so the patient could breathe during surgery.
“Veterinarians can get airways for large types of animals,” Jarbo said. “But for chimpanzees of this size it is very difficult to get airways. Our anesthesiologists are really used to it. It’s completely in their comfort zone. “
According to Duncan, she spoke several times on the phone with a surgeon and traveled to the University of Michigan to pick up equipment as the operation was conducted at a zoo.
Zane recovered very quickly, Duncan said. A chimpanzee named Trixie showed a strong interest in Zane and became his surrogate mother. Together with his new friend Bubbles – the second oldest chimpanzee in the community – and his older sister Jane Zane, he integrated well with the squad. According to Duncan, he recently celebrated his second birthday.
Duncan wrote in an email to the Daily that this is not the first time the Detroit Zoo has collaborated with medical experts in human medicine.
“For many years we have worked with a number of veterinary and medical professionals,” Duncan wrote. “We are more accustomed to veterinarians. However, we have worked with urologists, gastroenterologists, neurologists and anesthesiologists, most often when our patients are chimpanzees or gorillas. ”
Duncan also said cooperation between human medicine and veterinary medicine is crucial to advancing both industries.
“There are many similarities between human and veterinary medicine,” Duncan wrote. «One health cooperation allows us to succeed in both areas. “
LSA sophomore Ava Ryder, a veterinarian student, said she found the story very sincere. She also said that although veterinary medicine and human medicine have traditionally been considered separately, cooperation between the two areas is beneficial to society.
Ryder said that after veterinary school she plans to work in crossover research and hopes to specialize in oncology.
“I actually plan to work in crossover research (in the future),” Ryder said. “I would like to specialize in oncology … hoping to find a cure for human cancer as well as cancer … in the animals I treat.”
Ryder added that she was able to participate in two programs of discovering veterinary medicine in high school, and this experience inspired her to cross-study.
“I’ve always been interested in conducting research as well as helping animals,” Ryder said. “But if I can help not only animals, it’s an even greater achievement that I will strive for.”
Daily reporter Jinti Zhu can be contacted at email@example.com.