Trump recovers from second colic surgery at the ripe old age of 32
October 20, 2023
“Thank you Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center for giving Trumpie and me the chance to have a little more time together. Saving a 32-year-old horse is a most remarkable feat.”
Frederica Wheeler first met Trump, a dark-bay, non-gaited Tennessee Walker gelding, now aged 32, at The Greenbrier resort in Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Trump was named after the most powerful card in the game of bridge and is affectionately known at home as Trumpie.
Wheeler had been visiting The Greenbrier since the age of 10 and enjoyed trail-riding all over the Allegheny Mountains on their horses, which are available to guests of the resort to ride.
Wheeler, from Chevy Chase, Maryland, first met Trump when he was 12 and found him to be the perfect horse for her. He had a lot of common sense, and most importantly, she found that she could trust him on the trail.
“At first, The Greenbrier was reluctant to part with Trump as he was the most requested horse but the president of the resort at the time said, 'You shall have your horse!'“ Wheeler recalled.
In 2014, Trump, then 22, was referred to the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center (EMC) by Peter Radue, veterinarian from Damascus Equine Associates in Mount Airy, Maryland, after a rectal exam and ultrasound on the farm confirmed that a colic episode was due to distended loops of small intestine which were causing an obstruction.
Norris Adams, clinical associate professor of equine surgery, was receiving emergency cases when Trump arrived at the EMC, a full-service equine hospital and one of three teaching hospitals of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, for treatment.
An exploratory laparotomy surgery was performed. During this procedure, Adams accessed Trump’s abdominal cavity and carefully examined the organs and structures, looking for any abnormalities such as obstructions or loops in the intestines or any other issues that could explain Trump’s discomfort.
Adams discovered an omental lipoma -- a slow-growing, non-malignant growth of mature fat cells -- that is typically not harmful. In Trump's case, it had looped around a section of the intestine causing an obstruction. Ten feet of jejunum – the middle portion of the small intestine – was found to be severely compromised and was removed, along with the omental lipoma growth. Trump recovered uneventfully after surgery and after a few days of recuperation was on his way back home.
Fast-forward 10 years to September 2023 and Trump, at the ripe old age of 32, suffered another serious colic episode.
Alex Yerkes, veterinarian from Damascus Equine Associates, was called to the farm to assess Trump. Yerkes suspected a large colon volvulus, or a twisting of the colon, and Frederica expressed her desire to act quickly and not take any chances due to Trump’s previous history. Trump was back on the road again to the EMC for an emergency evaluation.
Again, Trump underwent an exploratory laparotomy, this time performed by surgery resident Teresa Hopfgartner, who is in her final year of training. A section of Trump's intestines was trapped by the stalk of a lipoma. After this lipoma and a second were located and removed, the small intestine was released and, most importantly palpated normally and appeared healthy and not compromised in any way.
An additional lipoma was found adhered to Trump’s colon and liver which could not be removed without compromising these structures and a decision was made to leave it in place.
Following surgery, Trump received additional fluid support in recovery and stood well from anesthesia, despite his advanced age. Once back in his stall, he was started on intensive postoperative care which included fluid support, electrolyte supplementation, anti-inflammatories, gastric support, and antibiotics. The following morning, Trump was taken on a short hand-led walk and allowed to graze, which he really enjoyed, showing a good appetite for the fresh grass.
On day two after surgery, Trump was passing normal amounts of manure but was not interested in eating feed offered to him in the stall. He therefore had additional dextrose added to his fluids to help him meet his caloric needs. Throughout the next few days, his appetite increased and his bloodwork was normal. Trump was able to be taken off IV antibiotics and fluids and his belly bandage was changed. The incision looked great, showed no discharge, and was healing nicely.
“The care at the EMC was superb. Way beyond the necessary or expected. The surgeon briefed me every day and fed baby carrots to Trump that I provided so that he would know that he was loved. The stall was big and airy and he was hand-walked every two to three hours.”
As geriatric patients often have a harder time adjusting to life in the hospital, Trump was meticulously cared for by the nursing department. He was offered treats he knew from home and was taken out on regular hand walks to ensure that he was taking in enough calories.
“The care at the EMC was superb. Way beyond the necessary or expected,” Wheeler said. “The surgeon briefed me every day and fed baby carrots to Trump that I provided so that he would know that he was loved. The stall was big and airy and he was hand-walked every two to three hours”.
After six days in the hospital, Trump had a consistent appetite and improved water intake, and was passing normal amounts of manure -- he was ready to go home.
Comprehensive instructions for rehabilitation were provided, which included keeping Trump on stall rest and monitoring his food and water intake for the first month before small paddock turnout and ridden exercise after 90 days. Wheeler was also equipped with a set of physical exercises to help with Trump’s recovery process.
Wheeler is looking forward to hitting the trails in the near future and participating in dressage shows again, just like she has for the last 20 years with her beloved partner Trumpie.