When vets Luca and Heidi Ferasin’s son Mattia needed a seven-hour operation to mend a hole in his heart, they thought they would never be able to thank the medics who had saved his life.
Until one of the surgeon’s pet dog was found to be suffering exactly the same problem.
When Mattia’s parents found out about French bulldog Büdu’s condition, they offered to treat the poorly pooch and nurse him back to health.
Now Büdu and Mattia have both made a full recovery - and are the best of friends.
Mattia was born with a hole in his heart and a narrow aorta that was limiting the blood supply to the lower half of his body.
The conditions were picked up 20 weeks into Heidi’s pregnancy and Mattia was operated on when he was six days old in March 2015.
Doctors had warned his parents there was a 10% chance of Mattia not surviving the risky open heart surgery.
The mammoth seven-and-a-half hour operation was led by Dr David Anderson and was a success - and Mattia went on to make a full recovery.
While medics were treating Mattia, Heidi and Luca became friendly with the medical team and one of the cardiac surgeons, Dr Caner Salih, told them he had a bulldog who was suffering from a heart murmur.
The couple - both veterinary cardiologists - invited Büdu and Dr Salih to the surgery, Lumbry Park Veterinary Specialists, to try to find out what was wrong and found Büdu was suffering with one of the same heart defect as Mattia.
Unlike Mattia, Büdu didn’t require surgery and so Luca provided Dr Salih with a number of management options for how to care for his dog at home and regular check-ups.
When the pair returned a year later, Luca found Büdu’s hole in his heart closed without surgery.
Luca, 54, from Four Marks, Hampshire, said: "When the image of the defect appeared on the screen of my ultrasound machine during Büdu’s examination, I was so surprised because it was one of the same congenital defects that Mattia had.
“Büdus defect closed within a year, which was even more surprising.
“This outcome has only been reported in a couple of cases in veterinary history.”
Heidi, 38, said: "We are forever indebted to the whole team of doctors who helped Mattia.
“Without their skill and knowledge of all the staff we are well aware that we wouldn’t have Mattia with us now.
“This is our way of giving something back because no words can ever express the gratitude that we feel.
“We have always felt that we owe all the staff so much.”
Dr Salih, 58, added: "Büdu has now made a full recovery. He’s not the brightest dog in the world but he’s family."