Anesthetist from the United States Dr James Bailey, Senior Veterinary Technician Kieran Marshall and veterinarian Dr Duan March.
Anesthetist from the United States Dr James Bailey, Senior Veterinary Technician Kieran Marshall and veterinarian Dr Duan March.

Was love the ultimate drug in Bucky's remarkable recovery?

COULD the power of love have played a part in Bucky's remarkable recovery from surgery to remove cancer.

In a world-first, a team of surgeons joined with Dolphin Marine Conservation Park's veterinarian Duane March to remove a cancer the size of a grapefruit in a ground breaking four-hour operation.

A mere 20 minutes after the tube used to keep the 48-year-old alive while under anaesthetic was removed, he was swimming around eating fish.

"It was really positive and the next week it was the same, but by the eighth or ninth day he started to go down hill and he waxed and waned," Dr March said.

"At the time we discussed euthanasia. He looked miserable and we asked 'when is enough enough' and we needed to remember that just because you can keep an animal alive doesn't mean you should.

The plan was to keep Bucky in isolation for six weeks to allow his scar to heal and as that milestone approached he was assessed to be strong enough to return to the pack and that's where his girlfriend Calamity came into the picture.

Within two minutes of being reunited they were having sex and he's maintained his sexual appetite ever since.

"Testosterone is a great drug - it props up a lot of systems," he said.

Bucky remains on some low dose medication and has undergone a welfare assessment and passed with flying colours.

"Based on his demeanour and appearance you wouldn't think there's anything wrong other than a big ugly scar."

 

Dr Maureen Thompson (in the surgical hat) and Terry Goodall looking over Bucky during this procedure.
Dr Maureen Thompson (in the surgical hat) and Terry Goodall looking over Bucky during this procedure.

He was rescued from the Nambucca River as an infant, extremely sunburnt and dehydrated.

In 2008 he was first diagnosed with cancer and after successful surgery, the disease went into remission.

Sadly it returned and on March 30 Bucky underwent surgery conducted by a team of more than 20 experts.

Dr March graduated from veterinary science in 2004. He grew up in Lake Cathie near Port Macquarie and always loved surfing and spear fishing.

"Marine critters have always held a special appeal but I never thought I would end up working as a vet in the marine field because the opportunities are so few and far between."

He completed his Masters looking into the potential link between naval sonar and strandings.

He says the only other position like his in Australia is at Sea World in Queensland.

When Bucky was first diagnosed with cancer in 2008 Dr March wrote a paper about it, published in the Australian Veterinary Journal and plans to write up the findings from the latest operation as a kind of chapter two.



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