A magic cure!

Poor Merlin needed more than a spell to survive this horror...

Published by: Dawn Murden
Published on: 20 October 2011

It seemed early for Christmas presents, but I'd promised the kids a pet. ‘You can have any kitten you like,' said breeder Trisha, opening a basket.
Half a dozen Bengal kittens crawled out, squeaking shyly, before one suddenly darted towards us, a mischievous look in his eye.
He nuzzled my leg before climbing on to my hubby Nick's shoe and nibbling the laces.
‘He's cute,' chuckled my daughter Ginnie, nine, as the kitten turned his attention to her and her brother Christian, seven.
‘Can we have this one?' Christian asked.
‘Please?' begged Ginnie.
‘I don't think we have a choice,' I smiled. ‘He's chosen us!'
We named him Merlin after the wizard in the BBC show.
He loved curling up on the sofa with us for a film, or playing with the kids. At night, he'd sleep at the end of our bed and, when the kids came home from school, Merlin would be waiting at the door for them. And he loved to hunt, too.
Put simply, Merlin was magic!
And, even two years after we got him, he still didn't like being away from us for too long.
Which was why it was so unusual for us to be hunting around the house for him.
Me and the kids were heading out, but needed to feed Merlin.
We looked in all his favourite places, but there was no sign.
‘Have one more check upstairs,' I told the kids.
But, before they'd reached the landing, there was a knock at the door. It was my neighbour.
‘Hello Paul, how are...' He wouldn't let me finish.
‘You need to come with me, quickly,' he blurted. ‘It's Merlin.'
‘What's happened? Is he...' but as I hurried after him, I spotted a trail of blood.
At the end of it was Merlin. His fur was matted with blood and his front and back right legs hung limply at his side.
‘We didn't see what happened,' explained Paul. ‘We just found him like this. He must have been hit by a car.'
‘Mum?' the kids called.
‘Don't look!' I called, but it was too late. Coming to a stop beside me, they let out shocked gasps.
‘We need to get him to a vet,' I told them. I called Nick, 41, telling him to meet us there.
‘Please don't let him die, Mummy,' urged Christian.
‘I won't, I promise,' I told him.
But glancing at the dishevelled furry bundle on the front seat beside me, blood pouring from
his nose, I wondered if I'd be breaking my promise.
‘Come on little fella, work some magic,' I muttered.
At the vet's, he was taken into the emergency room.
An hour later, the surgeon came to see us. ‘He doesn't have internal bleeding,' he started.
‘But his front and back right legs are broken - the front one beyond repair,' he added sadly. ‘It might be best to put him to sleep.'
‘We can't lose him,' I blurted.
‘There is a new treatment we could try,' he began.
‘We use the leg from a dead donor animal, very much like a human transplant donor... it's expensive, £6,000.'
But Merlin had chosen us, we couldn't choose to abandon him.
They transferred Merlin to the Small Animal Teaching Hospital in Leahurst, 40 minutes away.
‘His back leg can be repaired with metal pins,' the vet explained. ‘But I'm going to use the donor leg to rebuild his damaged front one.'
The five-hour operation was a success and, a week later, we brought him home.
Hundreds of stitches lined his legs and he could barely walk, but at least he was still alive.
After two months, I began physiotherapy exercises on his legs, and soon started to see an improvement. And the other day, I found he'd jumped into the laundry basket for a snooze.
It's sad to think that someone else's pet died to help ours survive, but if more people put their pets on the donor list then more could enjoy the miracle of life like our Merlin.
Julie Sothern, 47, Woolton, Liverpool