'Lil Miracle' puppy gets successful surgery for cleft palate

Veterinarians at North Carolina State University performed surgery to correct a beagle's cleft palate, which had kept the puppy from eating, drinking and growing normally.

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OXFORD, N.C. — Rescuers credited generous donations for getting a beagle puppy – nicknamed "Lil' Miracle" – the surgery he needed to eat, drink and grow normally.

Veterinarians said the puppy, Kobe, would need at least two major surgeries to correct a cleft palate, which left an opening in the roof of his mouth.

"When I got him home after his big surgery, I cried a lot. I did not realized how hard and painful it would be for him," said Tina Johnson, a veterinary nurse who is caring for Kobe.

But Kobe didn't seem to mind the hardship, she said.

"He continued to wag his tail even when he was at his worse," Johnson said.

And Kobe wouldn't need a second major surgery. After the procedure by Dr. Kyle Matthews and seven weeks with a gastric feeding tube, Kobe began eating by mouth and growing faster.

"From the grace of God, his first surgery was a success," Johnson said, and now the beagle "loves to eat."

Kobe is also enjoying his new strength and energy, his caretaker said.

"He is wide open as soon as his eyes open. He is definitely making up for the time when he could not play," Johnson said.

Some challenges, though, for Kobe are still ahead.

At 23 pounds, he is still significantly smaller than his litter mates, and still suffers from occasional vomiting. To get that checked out, he will have to go under anesthesia for an endoscopy, again performed by Matthews.

But he is much better than when rescuers brought him to the Oxford Veterinary Hospital, three days old and rejected by his mother.

Johnson credited Kobe's survival to generous donors who helped raise funds for his $5,000 surgery.

"Thank God for the donations we were blessed with. They made it possible for him to see his first birthday," Johnson said. "Thank you to each individual who has played a part in Kobe's life."

Funds to help with Kobe's ongoing care can be mailed to Tina Johnson at 231 Megan Run Roxboro, N.C. 27574 or by calling 336-504-8290.

"Looking at him each and every day is nothing but a pleasure," Johnson said. "We want him to have the best life he could have, for he is a fighter."


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