BY JANET MEDCALF
SPECIAL TO THE GREENEVILLE SUN
Two kittens, both born without upper eyelids, have received what amounts to a new lease on life, thanks to the surgical skill of one local veterinarian and the generosity of another.
The story began when the two kittens were found locally as strays one month apart.
Dr. Bobbie Hodges, veterinarian at the Greeneville-Greene County Humane Society, explained that the kittens, who were named Stevie and Frannie, were born with Colomba, a congenital defect.
Coloboma is by definition "a piece of missing tissue from birth," she said.
Stevie and Frannie were born without most of the upper eyelid on both sides.
The defect made hairs from above the eye grow into the eye, causing chronic irritation. The condition also made it impossible for these two kittens to blink normally to keep their eyes moist.
According to Hodges, surgery to repair the eyes would involve grafting a strip of skin from the lower eyelid on each side into the defect above the eye, essentially creating new upper eyelids.
Not having the correct suture material at the Humane Society to perform the surgery, Hodges contacted Dr. Vickie Howell, another local veterinarian, who offered to donate the materials needed for the kittens' surgeries.
Stevie, the first of the two kittens turned into the Humane Society's Adoption Center, had extremely irritated eyes, causing him to have great difficulty seeing.
When Hodges diagnosed him with Coloboma, she knew his only hope for a normal life would be surgery to correct this defect.
Stevie was immediately prescribed eye drops to ease the irritation to his eyes.
He also needed to gain weight before Hodges thought it would be safe for him to have surgery.
In just a few weeks, Stevie weighed a whopping three pounds and was able to have his corrective surgery.
Frannie, a sweet, friendly kitten that had been turned into Greene County Animal Control, caught the attention of Humane Society Adoption Center Manager Amy Bowman.
Bowman noticed that Frannie had obvious eye problems, and she brought her to the Adoption Center so she could have a veterinary exam.
Hodges diagnosed Frannie with the same defect that ailed Stevie.
Because Frannie had adequate weight, Hodges made plans to perform the intricate corrective surgery as soon as possible.
After successful surgery, Stevie and Frannie, with stitches all around their eyes, had to recuperate.
During this time, volunteers visited and spent many hours loving on and comforting the little kittens.
After a couple of weeks, the stitches were removed and both Stevie and Frannie began, for the first time ever, to lead normal, happy lives without pain.
We are so proud to have a skilled veterinarian such as Hodges at the Humane Society, who was able to perform such an unusual surgery, enabling these two precious kittens to have a new lease on life.
The Greeneville-Greene County Humane Society would like to invite everyone to come visit Stevie and Frannie!
Both are in need of loving families, and we hope that their dream of a forever home will come soon.
Janet Medcalf is a volunteer at the Greeneville-Greene County Humane Society.