Pony horrifically disfigured in a suspected acid attack had a ‘world first’ pioneering operation using fish skin to heal its burnt face.
Cinders was eight months old when she was found wandering in agony with horrific burns to her face, believed to be caused by an acid attack.
When she arrived at the Rainbow Equine Hospital in North Yorkshire she was heartbreakingly weak and unable even to open her eyes due to the severity of burns to her eyelids.
Cinders’ heartrending story was followed around the world and soon donations from wellwishers to help her recover came flooding in.
Meanwhile the hospital scoured the globe to find someone with the right expertise to help her.
Jamie Peyton, who had developed a process of using fish skin grafts to treat animals burned in wildfires, flew in from California to perform the surgery in May 2018.
She worked with a team of vets, and a plastic surgeon from the world-leading burns unit at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.
The team worked on Cinders’ wounds, cleaning them before applying a dressing made from the skin of a tilapia fish to Cinders’ face to aid the growth of fresh tissue.
Vet David Rendle from the equine hospital explained that fish skin was used because it is a good source of collagen and retains moisture well.
After recovering, Cinders found a forever home at a beautiful country house in North Yorkshire.
New owner Julie says: “I don’t know how anyone could have done something so awful to such a trusting and gentle little creature. There are no words. Luckily she is so happy and healthy now. She stayed at Rainbow for about five months before she came to me, and she is now around three years old.
“I fell in love with Cinders the moment I saw her, she has been nothing but a joy to look after considering what she has been through. She is loving, trusting and inquisitive and has built up a special bond with two little donkeys that share a stable with her. They do everything together.”
Julie added: “I am so proud of Cinders and how she has come through this, she so deserves this award. She is an absolute hero and just a wonderful part of our family.”
Hundreds of people donated money towards her ongoing treatment, raising more than £17,000, including an elderly couple who drove 100 miles every week for a month to drop off £100 and to enquire on how she was getting on.
Jonathan Anderson, from the Rainbow Equine Hospital praised the generosity of the University of California Davis Veterinary Teaching Hospital who sponsored Jamie Peyton to come and treat Cinders and funded her travel.
“We also were in awe of the amazing collaboration of the plastic surgeons from Pinderfields all of whom gave their own time and expertise for free on two occasions to help operate and perform facial reconstruction for Cinders,” added Jonathan.
He also thanked the hard work and dedication of the team of interns, nurses and vets from who “poured their heart and soul into caring for Cinders over the course of several months and made her life worth living again”.