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A new skin for Johnny


© FOUR PAWS | Marcel Fens

Update 2016-01-21

The wound of the severely injured stray dog Johnny is healing more rapidly every day! All this is possible thanks to the professional wound manager Dieter Ponweiser and CelluTome ™ - innovative epidermal harvesting system. Johnny was the first patient in Bulgaria, which was subjected to this new method of grafting epidermis. Two days before the treatment of the wound its dimensions were 12/22 cm (264 cm²), about a month later the wound has shrunk to 2/4 cm (8 cm²).


Great pain and stress were spared for the little hero. Surgical treatment by classical technology by grafting healthy skin from another part of the body has its risks. The daily changing of the bandage and the slow healing process causes stress and unnecessary pain. Johnny became our favorite patient and daily we are taking care for his recovery and socialization. The love and gratitude of Johnny can not be measured!

© FOUR PAWS | Marcel Fens

Badly injured dog receives autologous skin grafting at the FOUR PAWS Stray Animal Care clinic in Sofia

Johnny had luck in misfortune: The severely injured Bulgarian stray was missing a big patch of skin on his back and was brought to the FOUR PAWS Stray Animal Care clinic, where he immediately received the suitable treatment for his injury. Nevertheless, this involved a lot of stress and pain for the dog. “We did everything in our power to help Johnny, but every time we had to change his bandages, he flinched, was very stressed and had to go through a lot of pain. We all knew that it would take months for him to recover”, says Dr Margarita Chankova, project manager for the FOUR PAWS Stray Animal Care Bulgaria. Now Johnny received a special Christmas donation from an Austrian expert. Last week, professional wound manager Dieter Ponweiser traveled to Sofia together with special equipment needed for the innovative surgery and operated on Johnny. Thanks to the complimentary support of Ponweiser and Acelity, the global wound care and regenerative medicine company that provided the equipment, the procedure was made possible for the afflicted stray. He was supported by the FOUR PAWS vets at the clinic.

© FOUR PAWS | Hristo Vladev

The surgery went just fine - two patches of micrographts were transplanted successfully on the wound. Johnny woke easily after the anaesthesia and did not seem to feel any pain. In the next week the wound will be healing and only the outside layer of bandages will be replaced. Next Saturday the FOUR PAWS vets will remove all bandages to check on the progress of the recovery. 

© FOUR PAWS | Hristo Vladev

Johnny was treated using Acelity’s CelluTome™ Epidermal Harvesting system, a novel device that harvests epidermal micrografts from a patient donor site that are then transferred to a recipient site on the same patient. This procedure is known as autologous skin grafting. In a three-hour long surgery, Ponweiser took micrografts from one area of the dog’s body and transferred them to the wound site in order to aid the healing process. “The main advantage of this method is that the recovery period is much shorter in comparison to a conservative treatment, much less painful compared to classic skin transplants and there is no risk of infection”, explains Ponweiser. 

Before Johnny’s surgery, Ponweiser had only performed the epidermal skin grafting procedure on humans and horses. Although when performed on humans, the procedure does not require any anaesthesia, for welfare and safety reasons Johnny was anaesthetised and carefully monitored by the vet team. 

Three-year-old Johnny was brought to the FOUR PAWS clinic in late October. Although initially it was reported that Johnny’s back was scorched, FOUR PAWS vets confirmed that the injury is most probably a result of a fight with another dog. “We are so happy that the surgery now has improved Johnny’s prospects a lot – we hope that he will be totally recovered in the next weeks”, says Dr Chankova. After his full recovery, Johnny will be offered for adoption.

The FOUR PAWS clinic for stray animals in Sofia is a joint project by the city hall and the international animal welfare charity. The clinic is equipped with highly sophisticated equipment and has a team of experienced veterinarians, dog catchers and clinic workers. It offers free of charge neutering and treatment of stray animals and pets of socially disadvantaged people. Since the clinic was opened in October 2013, the FOUR PAWS team had treated nearly 5000 animals. 

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