Today we say goodbye to a very special friend and patient of ours, Ana, a Golden Lion Tamarin who lived at the Akron Zoo.
Back in 2017 the Akron Zoo contacted Dr. Wiley about Ana, who was having trouble seeing. Ana was 13 years old. She weighted 1.25 pounds. It is estimated that there are less than 2000 Golden Lion Tamarins left in the world.
The Akron Zoo noticed that Ana was having trouble jumping from vine to vine and getting around her exhibit safely. The exhibit that she was in was habituated by other animals too, such as stingray and fish, which could be aggressive, even life threatening towards her if Ana were to fall into the water. Because of this, the Akron Zoo wanted to make sure they helped her.
The Zoo brought in a veterinary ophthalmologist to examine her eyes, and what they found was that she had developed cataracts so severe that they were hindering her ability to see the world around. Her eyes were about the size of a pea, which even was even smaller than a human infant’s eyes. No one in the world has recorded performing a cataract surgery on a mammal as small as Ana.
Although it seemed daunting, there have been a lot of advancements in technology over the years with new tools and micro-instrumentation to perform human cataract surgeries with greater precision and better results than ever. Dr. Wiley thought that if he could bring his team to the Akron Zoo, we might be able to help Ana with her eyes. The surgery was successfully performed and after her surgery she was able to see better.
Pulling the surgery off wasn’t easy, it took a lot of people coming together to make it happen. Thanks to the Akron Zoo, The Great Lakes Veterinary Services, Dr. Emily Conway, Brecksville Surgery Center’s staff and expertise, Sightpath Medical, ClearChoice LASIK and Cleveland Eye Clinic, we were able to take care of Ana.
Ana was born in 2004. As of late she had been battling chronic pneumonia which created breathing difficulties for her. She was being treated for her heath issues, but recently she stopped responding to treatment.
Dr. Wiley reflects on his experience with Ana with these words;
“I can’t tell you how many people were touched by Ana’s story. Literally it seems I don’t go a day without someone asking me about it.
Thank you to the Akron Zoo team for giving her the long life she enjoyed and thank you to my surgical team and veterinarian Dr. Rizzo and veterinarian ophthalmologist Dr. Conway who all came together to help Ana with her cataract surgery. Thank you to all who were interested in Ana’s story. Ana’s spirit inspired me and it inspired so many of my patients to improve their own quality of life through eye surgery. It is humbling to realize the importance of vision we all appreciate and how even a small improvement on one’s vision has the ability to impact so many around us.”
RIP Ana, We’ll look for you on the other side of the rainbow bridge.