The Supervet: Noel Fitzpatrick

Supervet - Bear

Six years ago, we first witnessed the extraordinary work of the nation’s favourite supervet, Professor Noel Fitzpatrick, saving the lives of hundreds of animals at his unique practice – Fitzpatrick Referrals – where the team dedicate their professional lives to finding life-saving solutions, often where none seem possible. But what happened next? This brand-new series revisits some of the most dramatic and inspiring cases, catching up with the families and discovering what became of the animals at the heart of these extraordinary stories. This episode explores the strong family bonds between the patients brought into Fitzpatrick’s Referrals and their owners. In 2015, 18-month-old chihuahua Darcy was rushed to Fitzpatrick’s after being hit by a car and suffering a crushed pelvis, rendering her unable to walk. Playing a vitally important part in her family, tiny Darcy gives 18-year-old TaJournee, who has autism, a very special connection to the world. ‘Without her, I feel like an alien, it’s crazy without her’ she says. X-ray pictures revealed that Darcy had multiple fractures, requiring enormous dexterity from Noel, operating on such a tiny scale to realign all the minute bones in her pelvis. ‘It’s analogous to moving around pieces of glass with chopsticks’ says Noel. And now, five years on, Darcy is still at the heart of the Wilson family, with a blingtastic range of outfits to complement her fully-healed pelvis. Serial rescuers Ruth and Chris have a family of dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, quail and goldfish. In 2015, they came to Fitzpatrick’s with their beloved three-legged cat Jersey, who was rescued from a dairy with a hind leg broken so badly that it had to be amputated. Over the years, the extra stress on his remaining hind leg caused the kneecap to slip, and X-ray pictures revealed an additional problem with Jersey’s hip: osteoarthritis. Noel was able to treat the knee with a routine surgery, but weeks later, Jersey was still in severe discomfort and pain. But with no precedent for hip replacement in a three-legged cat, the surgery was uncharted territory, even for Noel, and came with significant risk: ‘the biggest problem is, if the operation goes wrong, you can’t amputate that leg. So it may be game over’ explained Noel. But five years on, and after many sessions of hydrotherapy, Jersey’s bounce is back and he’s still top cat at home. And three-year-old rescue deerhound Willow was brought to Fitzpatrick’s by Noreen, Graham and 10-year-old Lev, with a suspected broken neck after being in a horrific accident. Lev’s exceptionally close relationship with Willow is like no other: ‘Me and Willow are both adopted. I’m a rescue human!’ But when Noel discovered that there was bone sticking through Willow’s spinal cord like a spear, it required an immediate decision about emergency surgery. ‘That’s the worst possible spinal fracture you will ever see… we either operate, or we put her to sleep right now’ Noel explained. Remarkably, Willow made a full recovery and was able to walk properly once more, and now, five years on, she and Lev are closer than ever.

The Supervet: Thursday 8pm on Channel 4