GEORGETOWN – An equine surgeon in Kentucky, who performed live-saving surgery on a retired race horse, was given a football autographed by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees as a huge thank you.

The horse, 13-year-old Misszoey Belle, is a resident of Old Friends, a non-profit sanctuary in Kentucky that houses more than 175 retired race horses. Misszoey showed severe signs of a gastrointestinal disorder in mid-December and it was determined that she would have to undergo surgery in order for her to survive.

The horse was rushed to Kentucky's Park Equine Clinic, which usually provides Old Friends with cost-free veterinary care, but an equine surgeon was not available. So the clinic called Dr. Christopher Johnson whose provides services nearby.

According to Old Friends, Misszoey underwent surgery and returned to the sanctuary a few days later. She is now recovering well.

After learning that the horse was an Old Friends retiree, Dr. Johnson offered to waive his fee for his services. However, Old Friends knew he was a huge Saints fan so Dr. Bryan Waldridge, Old Friends resident veterinarian, gave Dr. Johnson a football autographed by Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

"I went to high school in New Orleans, so I have been a Saints fan as long as I've been alive," Johnson said.

Additionally, New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson retired one of his former race horses, Saint Aloysius, at Old Friends after suffering a career-ending injury last year.

Old Friends founder and President Michael Blowen called in the favor and Brees was able to help out.

"It's really great to see professional athletes such as Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints helping our professional athletes like Misszoey Belle when they need us most," Blowen said. "We can't thank the team and Dr. Johnson enough."

Greg Bensel, senior vice president of communications for the Saints, said that Brees was happy to help.

"Drew is so kind and giving with his time that when we need a signed ball he's always available," Bensel said. "And to be honest, he loves the horse-racing industry and he loves that the horses at Old Friends get great care. So, while he is busy planning for the Panthers game, I know he feels great about this."