Motley is an 8 year old neutered male mixed breed dog who presented to REACH just 2 days before Christmas. Very lethargic, unable to walk, and barely able to hold his head up, Motley arrived very sick with his survival hanging in the balance. His breathing was labored and his abdomen was slightly distended, raising questions that fluid may be present, inhibiting his breathing. He was immediately put on oxygen support and an initial x-ray revealed blood in his chest. Unfortunately not long after Motley arrived at REACH he went into cardiac arrest and CPR was performed. Fortunately he responded well to CPR and was essentially “brought back,” allowing the staff to continue the treatment as well as the appropriate tests needed to figure out what was going on and how to correct the problem. Furthermore it was quite obvious that Motley’s condition was very serious with the prognosis being very guarded. The next important factor that would determine whether or not he’d survive required a definitive diagnosis from the doctor.
Figuring out what was causing Motley to be so sick required the appropriate diagnostic tests. An aspirate of the blood from his chest revealed that the blood wasn’t clotting properly since it never clotted in the blood tube. This suggested coagulopathy, a very serious condition where blood is unable to clot properly (the patient essentially can bleed to death or die from problems associated with it). Preliminary x-rays revealed blood in the chest; still clotting factors needed to be tested to determine whether or not Motley’s blood can actually clot. Therefore blood work was performed to analyze all of Motley’s organ systems, his immune function, blood volume, and particularly his clotting factors.
Blood work results showed that Motley’s clotting factors were out of the high range. This aided in verifying the diagnosis of coagulopathy and he would have to be hospitalized for some time until the problem could be resolved. Therefore the appropriate treatment was to administer a plasma transfusion. This plasma transfusion, along with supplemented vitamin K, would help replenish the clotting factors in his blood. After a substantial amount of plasma had been infused the clotting factors began to improve. Unfortunately at the same time Motley’s PCV, which measures the red blood cell volume, began to drop dramatically resulting in severe anemia. Due to the severe anemia he was in need of a blood transfusion.
The blood transfusion Motley needed would require whole blood, as opposed to packed red blood cells. Unfortunately the blood bank was low at the time of Motley’s hospitalization and a donor would be needed in order to perform the transfusion. Luckily a sweet young boxer-pit mix named Emmylou was available to donate some of her blood to Motley. Emmy, as she is called, did wonderfully as she gave a fair portion of herself to help save Motley’s life. And save his life it did. Following the transfusion Motley began to improve substantially. His PCV increased over the time he spent at REACH and eventually he was up walking as well as eating and drinking. He began to act like himself again. On Christmas Day Motley was discharged from the hospital and went home to his family with a full recovery, making Christmas a whole lot better at their home.
The holidays could have been devastating for Motley’s family because he could have been lost forever. Motley went from near death and back again, but with the help of the doctors and staff at REACH and a sweet dog named Emmylou he was able to bring the joy back into the holidays for everyone involved.