Written by: Dr. Jenny Hochstedler
Hi! My name is Ellie. I usually spend my days perusing my yard and hay field, keeping it safe from vermin such as moles, birds, and squirrels.
My brother Gibbs is usually right by my side. We like to chase each other and play keep away with sticks. I want to tell you about the day my mom took me to work with her. She’s a veterinarian. I knew that it must be important because she was in a bit of a rush. She petted us both when she got out of her big red vet truck. She put Gibbs in the outdoor kennel, then got my harness and put it on me. She only uses the harness when we are going for a ride somewhere. Gibbs was pretty upset that I was in the truck and he was not. I was pretty excited!
We went into the vet clinic. On the way there, mom said that there was a really sick dog and the only way to save her was to give her a blood transfusion. My friends at the clinic held me tight and told me I was a good girl while I got a shot in my leg. I got really sleepy. When I woke up from my nap, they said I had saved another dog’s life!
A note from Dr. Jenny:
Blood transfusions are where we take blood from one dog and give it to another. Whole blood may be needed when there is severe blood loss, like in the case of blunt trauma, or the loss of red blood cells from a disease. In this particular case, my patient was diagnosed with immune mediated hemolytic anemia. The picture to the left is a normal blood smear. The red blood cells are normal in size and shape. In this disease, the dog is producing antibodies against their own red blood cells. Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen to all the tissues. When the antibodies attach to the red blood cells, the red blood cells die. The picture to the right is where the red blood cells are stuck together because of the antibodies that have attached to them.
Ellie was sedated so that we could collect a large amount of blood via her jugular vein. It is very important that she not move during the procedure, hence the need for sedation. The collection bag is rotated carefully to prevent any clotting from occurring. Ellie’s blood was immediately given to the sick dog at a slow rate. She was monitored carefully to make sure she did not have a reaction. The donated blood provided enough red blood cells to fulfill the oxygen needs of the dog while we implemented the appropriate treatment to stop the immune system from killing the red blood cells.
Ellie’s sedation was reversed. She was a little tired that day but was back to her normal self in no time. Gibbs was more than happy to see her come home!