Rusty is a Survivor

Thanks to Research with Animals

Rusty's Story - In His Own Words

My name is Rusty. I am a veterinarian and I have three kids, a wife, two dogs, and a cat.

Thirteen years ago, I found out that I have Marfan’s Syndrome, a genetic disease that causes your blood vessels to stretch and tear easily. In my case, the doctors found out through an imaging method called echocardiography that the blood vessels to my heart were stretching so that the valves in my heart didn’t work right. If I did not have surgery, my heart would fail and I would die.

In the surgery, they put in a new heart valve made of titanium. They also discovered a weak spot (aneurysm) on my aorta (the biggest blood vessel in your body), and they replaced it with a Dacron fabric tube. The surgery was tough: my heart and breathing stopped after the surgery was over and they had to resuscitate me, but if I had not had the surgery, my heart would have failed or my aorta would have torn and I would have died.

All of the things that helped with my recovery—the echocardiography machine, the artificial heart valve, the Dacron blood vessel, the methods used to resuscitate me—were developed with the help of animal research.

Thirteen years after my surgery, I feel great. I have been able to be a father to my kids and continue my work as an animal doctor, a teacher, and a scientist.

Because animals in research helped to save my life, and because I have seen other lives saved through animal research, I feel very strongly that animals that are needed in research deserve to be treated with kindness and respect, and I bring that feeling with me to work every day.