By Lauren Lipton
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Doctors at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia take care of many patients, but for one pediatric cardiologist, some of his patients are not human.
“Gorillas were dying all over the United States in zoos, in captivity. When they died, they did an autopsy on them, and they found out that many had died from a condition called cardiomyopathy, where the heart muscle gets weak and tired and the heart fails,” said Dr. Anirban Banerjee
Banerjee is a pediatric cardiologist. He joined doctors at the Philadelphia Zoo for a special project.
Hear Lauren Lipton’s full interview with Dr. Anirban Banerjee in this CBS Philly podcast (runs 6:05)…
“All the zoos in the USA got together and decided they would have to have a yearly screening,” he said. “We did the heart part and we took pictures of the heart. We took measurements and we sent it to the center in the zoo which collects and collates all the data from different zoos. None of them had the illness, fortunately, in the Philadelphia Zoo. If we happened to diagnose it in the early stage, maybe treatment can be started and their longevity prolonged.”
Other doctors at the same time took care of other problems, including dental care.
“Although they’re vegetarian, they still have pretty big teeth,” Banerjee said. “In contrast, baboons, which I’ve worked with, have even bigger teeth because they eat meat. They have to tear open whatever meat they–they’re like little mini-daggers.”
And Banerjee says he is proud of all of his patients.
“My daughter’s, they’re in college, so I send them a picture. I said, ‘Look, today this was my patient,’ and they go ‘What? What is that?'”
And that’s “Positively Philadelphia!”