You are a Rossie forever. That is the connection between all Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (Ross Vet) students past, present, and future. There are alumni that come back as faculty members or administrators, and many other alumni that frequently stay connected to campus and current students through speaking or club engagement opportunities. When Dr. Meredith Berger ‘08 was contacted by a group of students on St. Kitts, a much more urgent connection between Rossies turned vital to saving the life of Calypso.
It’s common for students to rescue or adopt pets on the island, to have a loving companion along with them on their veterinary journey. Stephanie Dawes, class of ’23, had been caring for Calypso, a local coconut retriever. Jenny Roberts, class of ’23, had been coordinating Calypso’s foster care with Ponds Adoption when it was discovered she had a heart murmur. Stephanie took Calypso to Ross University Veterinary Clinic (RUVC) to confirm diagnosis of patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), a heart defect that results in excess blood flow to the lungs. PDA can lead to enlargement of the left side of the heart and leakage of fluid into the lungs, a syndrome known as congestive heart failure (CHF). Closure of a PDA is the definitive and curative treatment. The diagnosis was just the start of Calypso’s journey, which presented a difficult challenge – the procedure to close the PDA is unable to be performed on St. Kitts.
Stephanie continued to care for Calypso while Noreen and Kelle Keyles, class of ’22, began helping with Calypso’s medical needs and research into how to get Calypso the procedure she needed. Noreen contacted Dr. Berger, who volunteers with Outcast Rescue. “Noreen wanted to know if Outcast Rescue would be willing to take on such an intense medical case with a large price tag. Outcast Rescue could not turn away this sweet little girl. Without blinking, Beth Hucke of Outcast Rescue promised to not only ensure that Calypso would get the medical care she needed but would also ensure that Calypso finds her forever home,” Dr. Berger recalled.
Many weeks of perseverance and dedication by the group led to an opportunity to bring Calypso to the United States and Crown Veterinary Specialists in Lebanon, New Jersey, where Dr. Berger practices. Though one more challenge in Calypso’s journey presented itself – none of the students could miss class time to safely transport Calypso to New Jersey. Hope Nicyper-Meryman, class of ’23, and her boyfriend, George Kracke, stepped up for Calypso and George volunteered to bring Calypso on her flight. An incredible, collaborative effort by these students and their loved ones brought Calypso safely to New Jersey and a successful procedure to close her PDA on October 20, 2021.
“Working with the students and their partners from Ross Vet was an amazing experience. Their dedication and perseverance in this mission was incredibly admirable. Everyone banded together, raised money, made all kinds of arrangements, and never gave up when there were obstacles encountered,” said Dr. Berger. “They truly went above and beyond to help save Calypso’s life. These students are the types of individuals we desperately need more of in the veterinary field. While I am already extremely proud to be a Ross Vet alumna, this experience made me extra proud of where I started my career and exceptionally proud of the future doctors Ross Vet is cultivating.”