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Breathing for Sookie: by Chris McLaughlin (AVC 2012)

February 7, 2012

One of the most valuable lessons I learned during my time with the Chinook project was the importance of resourcefulness in medicine; and my best teacher was Sookie, a small dog that was flown in from another community to visit the clinic we had set up in Makkovik. When Sookie was anesthetized prior to surgery, he stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest. Our rustic clinic had access to the basic emergency drugs, but we had no vital, life saving equipment: no ventilators, and no way to breathe for him as we tried to restart his heart.

As I was quick to learn, though, I could fill his lungs for him by breathing into his endotracheal tube. I spent the better part of the next 3 hours providing his body with oxygen while we attempted to stabilize his condition. The photo is of me and other members of the Chinook team with Sookie, once his heart had been restarted and he was breathing on his own.

Chris MacLaughlin (centre) with Sookie, who was out of danger, but still recovering from anesthesia at this time

The following day he visited the clinic before boarding the ferry that took him back to his grateful owners. He was happy and full of life, and I came out of the experience with skills that I have used on occasion since my return from the North. I am grateful to Sookie for teaching me and making me a better veterinarian.

(this guest post from Chris is his submission for a writing exercise that requires Chinook students to discuss the significance of a photo taken during their time with the Project--in 250 words or less!)

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