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Woman pays $200 to give her goldfish life-saving surgery

I understand the tremendous impact pets can have in our lives. For many readers, your pets are literally members of your family. So it is no surprise the extremes that some owners will go to care for beloved pets - that is, until now.

Meet George. George is a standard goldfish in Australia. Ten-year-old George is apparently much loved by his owner. George's owner loves him so much that when given the choice of brain surgery or letting George quietly go to that big aquarium up in the sky, the owner picked surgery.

So George was admitted to an Australian animal hospital last week because he wasn't eating and was having trouble swimming. The reason why was very apparent: George had a large tumor on the top of his head.

Veterinarian Dr. Tristan Rich offered to perform the goldfish surgery to remove the offending tumor, but warned that there was no guarantee. "It's a very fiddly procedure, and you have to be very careful about blood loss," he explained.

When the time arrived for George's surgery, Dr. Rich was ready. It was a tricky procedure, and the tenacious vet had to be clever if he was going to keep George alive.

Dr. Rich put George under for surgery using a series of three buckets. The first bucket had pond water heavily laced with the anesthetic to put George under, and the second bucket had pond water with just enough anesthetic to keep George asleep.

A tube ran from the second bucket into George's mouth to pump anesthetized water over his gills while he was on the surgery table.

The actual procedure is quick and straightforward," Dr. Rich said.  "[But] it's quite fiddly, as you can imagine with an 80-gram fish, and you've got to make sure you can control any blood loss. He can only lose about half a mil [milliliter]," or about four 100ths of an ounce.

Dr. Rich carefully cut away the tumor and the entire procedure took just 45 minutes. The vet then released George into the third bucket, filled with oxygenated pond water, and left him to recover.

"George is now doing great; he spent a few days in the tank, and is now swimming happily in the pond," Dr. Rich said.

Goldfish can live up to 30 years if they have enough space, good water conditions and good food. Dr. Rich gave George a 20-year lease on life!

You can see the pictures of George's surgery below (some images may be disturbing). All images are courtesy of Lort Smith Animal Hospital in Melbourne, Australia.

Dr. Rich preps George's anesthesia and recovery buckets.

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Dr. Rich preparing the "breathing tube" for George from the second bucket of water.

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You can see the "breathing tube" pumping water over George's gills and the brain tumor in the background. Poor George. george

George undergoes his surgery to remove the tumor from his head.

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Dr. Rich is very gentle with his patient. You can see the "breathing tube" that is pumping water with anesthesia into George's mouth and over his gills.

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The tumor removal was a success! No wonder the poor guy was having a hard time. Yuck.

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Dr. Rich releases George into the third bucket of water to recover. He says the whole thing went "swimmingly."

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