Watch out for strange bodies on hospital gurneys.

SeaWorld Orlando’s rescue team wheeled a four-year-old manatee into Florida Hospital Celebration’s imaging center for a CT scan, which uncovered a hidden rib fracture that caused a collapsed lung.

Tom was rescued April 1 by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission off the shores of Oak Hill, after he was floating abnormally. His back bore the parallel scars of a boat strike.

FWC rescuers took the sea cow to SeaWorld for rehabilitation, where he was treated by veterinarians and the animal husbandry team. After two months of rehabilitation, his buoyancy was not improving so the 400-pound sea cow was shuttled to the hospital June 2.

“Following several chest taps at SeaWorld to remove excess air from his chest cavity, Tom was still suffering from pneumothorax, or air outside his lung,” said Dr. Lara Croft, senior veterinarian at SeaWorld Orlando. “We needed a complete view of his lungs to determine if there is another issue we are unaware of – such as a tear – so we can address it and consult with surgeons to determine the next step in Tom’s rehabilitation.”

Tom was the first SeaWorld manatee to have a CT scan. He’s improving daily and it doesn’t look like surgery is needed, Susan Storey, SeaWorld’s director of communications, said Thursday.

“He’s a strong candidate for release back to the wild,” Story said “We’re glad to have community partners like Florida Hospital to provide the best care for our rescued animals.”

Amy Pavuk-Gentry, a spokeswoman for Florida Hospital, said the imaging room was thoroughly cleaned with bleach in what’s called “a terminal cleaning” after Tom’s visit.

About The Author

The youngest of seven children, Terry O. Roen followed two older brothers into journalism. Her career started as a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, where she wrote stories on city and county government, schools, courts and religion. She has also reported for the Associated Press, where she covered the Casey Anthony and Trayvon Martin trials along with the Pulse massacre. Married to her husband, Hal, they have two children and live in Winter Park. A lifelong tourist in her own state, she writes about Central Florida’s growing tourism industry for Florida Politics and Orlando Rising.

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