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Longlease Bernese Mountain Dogs Gallery of Friends

Tara’s Good Deed

Berner Tara, owned by Gael Goldsack, becomes a blood donor

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I was at the vet with my older Berner girl, Ellie, for a top up of her medication when a very sad-looking young Golden Retriever was helped into the waiting room. Ellie was immediately up on one of the waiting room chairs to get a better look at the new arrival and a pat from his owners. Ellie is nine years and seven months, going on two and still thinks she is an agility dog!

While we were waiting, my vet came and spoke to the couple with the Golden explaining that he urgently needed another blood transfusion. He had a treatable condition of the bone marrow where the red blood cells were not being made correctly to replace the old ones. Medication will cure the condition, but could take 3-6 months, meanwhile he needs supporting with regular blood transfusions. As he had already had one transfusion two weeks previously with blood obtained from a blood bank, he now needed another. Blood bank blood may be up to 2 weeks old and the red blood cells may well be in their last week or two of life, so a fresher donation was required. Another complication was that the donor had to be compatible and a cross-match needed to be done, as it was a second transfusion. The vet sent the Golden home to await news of a possible donor for a transfusion the next day.

It was then our turn for consultation. Ellie was checked over and given her medication.

My vet then looked up my younger Berner, Tara’s records on his computer. He established that she was 6.5 years old in good health and weighed in at just under 40kg. He then asked me if I would give permission for Tara to be used as a blood donor the following day. I gave my vet information on the health of Tara’s lines so he could make an informed decision as to her suitability as a donor. It was agreed she was suitable and booked in for the next morning.

I have to admit; it was with some reservation that I dropped Tara off the next morning (minus breakfast), as she hates being left at the vet. She was given a quick physical check-up before being taken through to the treatment room. The Golden was already there, sitting forlornly in the corner. One look at this poor young boy convinced me I had done the right thing. I reluctantly left Tara as she was being sedated and arranged to collect her in the late afternoon.

During the morning, Tara had some blood drawn and given a heartworm check. Her blood was then cross-matched to the recipient (a perfect match as it turned out), a saline drip connected and 500ml of blood withdrawn from her femoral artery. This only takes a couple of minutes then the blood volume replaced with the drip over then next hour. While she was sedated, the vet did a free scale and polish of her teeth and gave her a thorough check.

Meanwhile, the Golden was also sedated and received Tara’s donation over the following 4 hours. He had to stay in overnight, but Tara was allowed home. I collected a still groggy Tara and brought her home to recover on the dining room floor. She slept until dinnertime, but came quickly to her food bowl and polished off her meal in double quick time. By the next morning, Tara was back to her old self except for the shaved patches on her front leg and in her groin area.

I will follow the progress of the young Golden boy with much interest.

Gael (with Ellie and Tara)
Sydney, Australia

April 6th '08
Late night update from Gael
" I have since learned that the Golden boy's name is Banjo and he is firing on all cylinders now he has the good Berner blood on board"

April 20th '08
" I had a call from my vet to let me know that the Golden boy, Banjo, had sadly passed away. The final diagnosis was lymphatic leukemia. He had also picked up a chest infection and couldn't fight it off. He came back to the vet a very sick boy. While he was there he started bleeding out into his lungs, so he was euthanased. I suppose at least Tara gave him a week or more of quality life. So sad for the owners, he was such a beautiful looking boy."

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