MARIANNA, Pa. (KDKA/AP) – A calf born with its heart in its neck is thriving on a western Pennsylvania farm despite the unusual deformity.
The first thing you notice about the little calf is the big eyes, long lashes and fuzzy coat. The first thing owner Tom Leech noticed was his low body temperature.
“I got him and he was really cold. He was just freezing,” said Leech, of Amwell Township. “I could see that, but I was thinking it was just an artery. Got him in the barn, got him warmed up, took a blow dryer, dried him off, wrapped him in a blanket.”
The next morning, Leech checked the newborn and saw then felt the same strange fluttering in his neck.
“It’s just still pumping and I’m thinking, ‘This just ain’t right.’ I was thinking maybe it was an artery or something because he was so cold,” Leech said.
His veterinarian examined the calf and found he is missing his sternum and possibly two ribs. And the fluttering? That’s his heart in his throat.
“That’s allowing the heart to come out into the brisket, or the neck area that you might want to call it,” said Leech.
And so, the little calf was named.
“My wife and my sister-in-law, well, it’s cardio and it’s in the brisket. So, they named him ‘Cardio Brisket,’” said Leech. “It kind of fit it!”
Leech breeds shorthorn cattle on his Amwell Township farm. He has raised cattle his whole life, but he’s never seen anything like this and can find only two other similar cases in the world.
“You can feel it. The heart is just right there. It’s really amazing,” he says.
So far, Cardio Brisket is holding his own – eating, drinking and nursing. He’s kept away from other calves so he doesn’t get injured while playing.
“He runs around real well and stuff just like a normal calf. He’s just not growing as fast,” Leech said.
Ohio State University offered to take Brisket to study, but Leech said no. The little guy has touched his heart.
“We decided we’re just going to let him grow and see how far it will grow,” Leech said. “Everybody’s telling me he won’t last two or three days. Well, now it’s seven weeks.”
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