28 November 2023

A dog owner’s sobs of despair turned to tears of joy after specialist care here at Willows saved the sight of her precious ‘therapy’ pet.

Sarah Marshall, from Nottingham, was distraught when her Husky Akasha completely lost her sight overnight and said she feared the family’s 10-year-old dog would never see again.

However, in a case which featured on our recent Channel 5 series The Dog Hospital, Akasha was referred to our Ophthalmology service, with Specialist Alberto Palella Gomez operating to ensure Akasha still has a bright future.

An overwhelmed Sarah, who’s had Akasha since she was an eight-week-old puppy, said: “I would rather have lost my sight than her.

“She has been there through everything I have been through for the past 10 years and if it wasn’t for her I’m not sure I would be sitting here.

“I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression and when I wasn’t doing well, Akasha knew what to do.

“She’s been like a therapy dog for me and I have been so lucky with her. She has saved me and this was the time for me to save her.”

Alberto became the hero of the hour but said it was a very challenging and intricate operation to remove the cataracts caused by Akasha’s diabetes.

Alberto said: “Akasha was diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus (an endocrine disease) in February 2023 and by May she started to develop cataracts in both eyes. These rapidly progressed and within a month Akasha was blind.

“The optimal treatment for cataracts is surgery known as phacoemulsification, which requires years of specialty training to master the technique.

“The eye is a very delicate organ so you need very steady hands to perform eye surgery. The tiniest mistake can cause permanent damage.

“The crucial part of Akasha’s surgery was when we inserted a probe into her eye. It emits high frequency sonic vibrations to break the cataract down.

“Any mistake at that stage could have created a rupture of the lens capsule and dropped lens material into the back of the eye.

“This could trigger a lot of inflammation and potentially mean Alaska would lose her eye.”

Alberto need not have worried. The operation was a complete success and sparked emotional scenes when Sarah was reunited again with a fully restored Akasha. You can catch up with all episodes of our fantastic four-part television series here