Oscar the Labrador has a new lease of life after vets gave him a heart pacemaker in the first such operation in Hong Kong. The six-year-old pet suffered from third-degree heart block, a serious condition that caused him to faint up to 10 times a day and could have killed him. Now, surgeons say, he could live another six years, with the electronic device keeping his heart rhythms in order. 'This is not easy to treat,' owner Anna Lee, a part-time nurse at the Victoria Veterinary Clinic in Yuen Long, where the operation was done on Tuesday, said yesterday. 'If I had not done it, Oscar would have died.' Pacemaker implants in animals are not new, but the city lacks specialists for the operation and owners in the past have usually flown their pets overseas or flown surgeons in, both expensive undertakings. Vets Ken Thorley and Matthew Field consulted several cardiologists at the University of California, Davis, Cornell University and Michigan State University before performing the surgery. 'Before we went in, we knew what we were doing,' Thorley said, acknowledging they were well aware of the risks. 'When you operate on the heart, you are always very tense; but we were happy to see how well it went.' He said the operation lasted for about 90 minutes. The black dog was put in a cage to recover and was up an hour later. 'We put him under 24-hour care,' said Thorley, who founded the clinic in 1992. 'Nurses monitored his blood level and took electrocardiograms all night long.' Oscar recovered well and was already home last night. Lee, 30, will pay for the pacemaker but not the full operation fees, estimated at HK$20,000 by Thorley. She said she would have gone ahead even if she had had to pay the whole amount. 'Oscar has a deep bond with our family,' she said. Other clinics confirmed it was the first such operation in Hong Kong. The team made a hole in Oscar's abdomen and diaphragm to give access to the heart, then screwed an electrode to the heart muscle. A wire linked it to the pacemaker, which was put between the abdominal muscles. 'Many people are willing to spend more money for their pets. The expectations are very high in Hong Kong,' Thorley said. Most major procedures cost about HK$10,000. Oscar will continue to be monitored and will have the pulse of his pacemaker adjusted to help the device, and his heart, last as long as possible. Thorley believes he can make it last six years.