Tell us about your background.
I am from New Zealand and completed my veterinary training in 2009. My first job was in a small town in the south island called Ashburton. After a few years in small animal general practice I knew I wanted to specialize and further my training. I was offered a surgical internship with the Brisbane Veterinary Specialist Center in Australia, and was fortunate enough to work with American-boarded surgeons who encouraged me to apply for a rotating internship position in the United States.
In 2014 I completed my rotating internship at Mississippi State University and went on to a surgical internship at the Alta Vista Animal Hospital in Ottawa, Canada. I started my residency training at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC), University of Guelph, in 2015, where I developed my passion for minimally invasive surgery.
I joined the faculty at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital as a soft tissue surgeon in 2019 and became a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons in 2020.
How did you become passionate about minimally invasive surgery?
During my residency training I was mentored by Dr. Ameet Singh, one of the founding members of the Veterinary Endoscopy Society. This group has pioneered the introduction of minimally invasive soft tissue surgery to the veterinary field. At the OVC I was exposed to a number of advanced laparoscopic and thoracoscopic procedures and contributed to multiple studies, including laparoscopic cholecystectomy and thoracoscopic lung lobectomy.
Minimally invasive surgery is proven to have less morbidity and faster recoveries than open techniques. In human surgery, it is considered the gold standard.
Open surgical techniques for conditions such as chylothorax, persistent right aortic arch, primary lung tumor, adrenal tumors and gall bladder mucocele involve large surgical incisions and potentially long recovery times.
Laparoscopy and thoracoscopy mean procedures such as thoracic duct ligation, ligamentum arteriosum ligation, lung lobectomy, cholecystectomy, adrenalectomy, liver biopsy, intestinal biopsy, splenectomy, cystotomy and more can be performed with reduced discomfort to the patient and get these pets back to their homes faster.
I really believe minimally invasive surgery is the cutting edge of veterinary practice.
Tell us about a favorite case of yours.
I recently treated a lovely little dog for idiopathic chylothorax. It is a very tricky disease and can be fatal if left untreated. We were able to perform a thoracoscopic thoracic duct ligation and stop the chylous effusion into her chest. She has been doing very well, and I was so pleased to see her recover and get back to her normal goofy ways!
Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
I have adopted all my animals over the years from work. I currently have an ex-blood donor cat called Cashew that came from Canada with me. My newest addition is Mable, an older Labrador cross, that I adopted from the junior surgery program at the U of I. Both have helped keep me sane during COVID and are great companions!