At just a week and a half, a beautiful foal named Epona gets her first taste of fun in a grass paddock. Lisa Gaudio and her husband Jimmy can't get enough of this feisty girl and her antics at their Chadds Ford farm.
Epona is definitely a special girl. She was born at Penn Vet's new Bolten Center on January 16, to a surrogate mother named Mercy.
"I never thought we'd have this. Never in a million years did we think we could have this," Lisa explained.
A second foal, 'Big Man in Town" arrived on Sunday January 22, carried by his surrogate mom Peace.
A third surrogate "Grace" was the last to deliver her filly on February 1st, Elle Vitorina, who made her entrance into the world one minute before midnight.
These foals part of a triple miracle, all thanks to amazing advances in veterinary medicine.
"It's Kyrie's babies. She is the reason we did this, there really no other reason, other than our hearts," Lisa explained.
Kyrie was Lisa's beloved Arabian. She raised the national champion from a foal, and their connection was immediate and strong.
"She was the horse that was so different, so human like, so touched everybody's heart," Lisa said.
Lisa was separated from Kyrie for 15-years due to personal circumstances, but always vowed to find her. She tracked the mare down in Scottsdale in 2013, but Kyrie had sadly developed laminitis.
After finally bringing her home, even the best veterinary care could alleviate Kyrie's pain. Lisa was forced to make the tough decision to let her go.
But, she wanted Kyrie's legacy to live on.
"She was euthanized in her own stall and they took the ovaries with 20 minutes," Lisa explained.
After Lisa's vet successfully harvested Kyrie's ovaries they were immediately taken to New Bolten's reproduction center, where Dr. Tamara Dobbie recovered 16 eggs.
"Those were then packaged and shipped overnight to Texas A&M where they performed invitromaturation, the actual ICSI procedure where they inject a single sperm cell into each egg," Dr. Dobbie explained.
The difficult and delicate procedure was done under a microscope. The frozen sperm came from a stunning stallion named Vitorio.
As a result, four embryos that matured in the lab at Texas A&M University, where they were transferred to recipient mares.
The transfer resulted in three successful surrogate pregnancies.
"It is unusual to get so many pregnancies from a deceased mare's ovaries. You know we are always very thrilled if we get one pregnancy, 2 would be great. 3 is pretty uncommon," Dr. Dobbie explained.
"It was a shot in the dark, it really was. It was, why not try it," Lisa added.
The massive team effort included veterinary experts from Pennsylvania to Texas. Penn Veterinarian Dr. Michelle Linton cared for the mares before delivery, and then brought the foals into the world.
It was personal for Dr. Linton as well.
"It is special for us here because there have been many people involved in the care of Kyrie when she was alive," Dr. Linton said, "I knew her from being here, so we all had our own special relationship with the mare."
"It's been remarkable to meet these foals that are her foals and seeing the similarities to her," Dr. Linton added.
"Getting her back was a dream come true, then we lost her, these miracles were something I could never imagine," Lisa explained, "It means that the mare we lost, you know is still here, see her little eyes every day."
Lisa definitely has her hands full. She plans on keeping them all, the three foals and all three surrogates who gave her such an amazing gift. It's a gift she wants other horse lovers to know about.