PHOENIX (KSAZ) - This is one surgery where doctors need to be very careful.
Daniel, a Bornean orangutan who lives at the Phoenix Zoo, recently underwent a groundbreaking operation to clear up his sinus infection.
David Simms, an ear, nose and throat doctor, performed one of his surgeries.
I've never operated on any animal before. For sinus operations, I don't think it's ever been done in the United States before," said Simms. "I got a call from the vets here about doing that, and at first I thought it was a prank, and after I called them and found out it was legitimate, I looked at some CT scan and realized he really did have a problem, and after looking at scans, I could tell his sinuses were very similar to a human."
The surgery went well, and Daniel was set up for his second surgery that focuses on his chest.
"We went in and opened the air sacks and left them open so we could continue to get drainage of that fluid, so if any fluid or puss builds up in there, it will continue to drain," said veterinarian surgeon Jeff Steurer.
That surgery was another success. Now, Daniel is back where he belongs, and in a much healthier state
"It's night and day the fact that he is back to his playful self," said Mary Yoder with the Phoenix Zoo. "He's interacted with us. He's just a happy guy again, and that means the world to us."
Since Daniel is so young, they will be able to follow him to make sure the surgery was a long-term fix. The doctors hope this will set a precedent to help many more animals in the future.