Doctor On Call
Taking care of God’s creatures
Doctors who make house calls are virtually a thing of the past. A doctor who makes sanctuary calls is unheard of.
Unless that doctor is Dr. Ghali E. Ghali, DDS, MD.
Ghali is a renowned oral and maxillofacial surgeon with the Willis-Knighton Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Institute. He recently visited Chimp Haven in Keithville, the world’s largest chimpanzee sanctuary, to perform surgery on Sparky, a 34-year-old male chimpanzee.
Sparky had sustained a mandibular fracture that required surgery to stabilize and repair. Veterinary specialists are not readily available in north Louisiana, so Chimp Haven called on Ghali.
“Sparky had a fairly severe injury, which was very similar to conditions in both animals and humans,” Ghali said.
According to a news release, the surgery took about 30 minutes and resulted in the chimp losing two of his permanent teeth.
It was not the first time Chimp Haven had called on Ghali to help one of its chimpanzees. This was his third procedure at the sanctuary.
Ghali also has treated a couple of dogs at area veterinary offices around the area – one for a tumor and one related to trauma.
“I am always honored to be asked to take care of all of God’s creatures,” he said.
The news release said Sparky’s injury likely resulted from an altercation with other chimps. Chimp Haven staff members describe Sparky as popular within his social group. He often is seen exhibiting behavior that forms social and emotional bonds among the group members.
Dr. DaShaunté Coleman, Chimp Haven’s clinical veterinarian, said she is pleased with Sparky’s recovery to date.
“Sparky has made a profound recovery, is thriving and continues to live the chimp life,” Coleman said. “Longterm, Sparky maintains to have a good prognosis and is experiencing a life full of normalcy and enrichment.”
Coleman said Chimp Haven is committed to best practices and providing a standard of care that sometimes requires advanced and specialized treatment for the sanctuary residents. She is grateful to have doctors like Ghali available when particular expertise is needed.
“We are both fortunate and thankful that when the necessity for veterinary care and human medicine reaches a crossing point, we have access to renowned surgeons such as Dr. Ghali,” Coleman said.
She applauded Ghali for his willingness to step outside the usual boundaries of his practice to “provide services to a species, the chimpanzee, that has contributed so much to medicine as a whole.”
The respect is mutual, Ghali said. “I continue to be impressed by the facility and the dedication of the Chimp Haven staff and personnel in taking care of these primates,” he said.