Goodbye Brave Bubba

This was found on CBS today:

Bubba the Grouper, the first fish in history known to have received chemotherapy and bounce back from cancer, has died, the Shedd Aquarium said.

Shedd officials estimate Bubba, who became an instant celebrity and an inspiration to cancer patients when news of the chemotherapy was first announced, was estimated to be 24 years old when he died this week.

The 69.3-kilogram "super grouper" was abandoned at the Chicago aquarium in 1987, left at the reception desk as a 10-inch fish in a bucket.

Shedd officials nursed the fish — then a she — to health and put her in a tank. Bubba changed gender in the mid-1990s, which is not uncommon for certain kinds of fish.

Bubba was diagnosed with cancer in 2001, and two years later, Shedd officials operated and took the unprecedented step of administering chemotherapy. But the cancer returned. The team operated again in spring 2003, applying medical-grade connective tissue implants — the same kind used in human medicine — to spur tissue growth. A special sling held Bubba in place in his operating tub, and veterinarians, for obvious reasons, couldn't keep his wounds dry and bandaged. Fortunately, Bubba's natural mucus covering contains powerful antibodies that protected him from infection, according to the Shedd Aquarium website.

Cancer survivors, particularly children, were inspired by Bubba's story of resilience, and he was a Shedd favourite, officials said.

"Bubba overcame some incredible odds over the years, and that's what made him so special to us," said George Parsons, director of the Shedd's Fish department. "Every once in a while for the last three years we have been getting phone calls from kids with cancer or from their parents, wondering how he is doing," Parsons said. "It's going to be tough now, if I have to tell them he's no longer with us."

- The author of these words signs of for now, his head filled with the images of a poor sickly fish in a sling, recovering from chemotherapy and surgery. Judging by the news interest that has been generated, it is comforting to know that Bubba's place in history is secured.

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