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Veterinarian Technician October 2008 (Vol 29, No 10)

Mare expects foals 11 months after her death

    When a tornado tore through Windsor, Colo., Jennifer Mears had to have her mare Tuesday euthanized. Eleven months later, however, she may be able to enjoy the company of Tuesday's soon-to-be-born foals.

    After Tuesday was euthanized at the Colorado State University James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, the university's Equine Reproduction Laboratory (ERL) collected eggs from the ovaries and fertilized them using an advanced sperm injection technique.

    The evening she died, 20 eggs were harvested from Tuesday. Of those eggs, eight developed into embryos and the four most viable embryos were implanted into four surrogate mares. Of the four embryos implanted into the mares, two became viable — one mare belonged to Mears and the other to the ERL.

    "There was a 30% chance that just one embryo would take, and it was something of a miracle that two pregnancies survived in surrogate mares," said Patrick M. McCue, DVM, PhD, associate professor of equine ambulatory at CSU. McCue, who volunteered in Windsor with his family after the tornado hit, performed the fertilization work pro-bono.

    Even though complications can occur with these pregnancies, McCue assures that the mares are healthy and doing well — both McCue and Mears have heard the heartbeats in both embryos.

    In honor of Tuesday, Mears will name the foals Wednesday and Thursday, and McCue has renamed one of the surrogate mares Friday.

    "It was a horrible loss, but I'm happy for the memories we had made together," Mears said. "I'm hoping for two fillies, but as long as they're healthy, I don't care."

    NEXT: On the Cover — Making Miracles Happen: A Talk with Kimm Wuestenberg, CVT, VTS (ECC, SAIM)

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