for Excellence by a Veterinarian in the Treatment of
Canine Autoimmune/Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia
The winner of the 2010 Meisha’s Hope Award is Dr. Hires Gage. Dr. Gage works out of the Fairway Animal Hospital in Fairway, KS and was nominated for the Meisha’s Hope Award by The Cunningham Family. The Cunningham's nomination of Dr. Gage for the 2010 Meisha's Hope Award is reproduced below the photo of Dr. Gage and the Cunninghams.
Dr. Hires Gage, his dog Doris & The Cunningham Family
including Bella wearing her Meisha's Hope Bandanna
”Dr. Hires Gage has been caring for my animals since I was a child. He has built his practice on his core beliefs, including honesty, integrity, compassion, and empathy.
”On the evening of Tuesday, May 25, 2010, my one and a half year old Australian Shepherd, Bella, and I, took our usual two mile walk. Nothing unusual occurred, and after my husband let Bella out one last time that night, we went to sleep.
”When I woke the next day, I was not greeted with Bella’s usual routine of jumping, and herding me down the stairs. Bella just stood in our bedroom, looking at me. I thought it was odd, but I made my way downstairs to let her out and feed her. Bella didn’t rush outside as usual. In fact, she barely got outside. I immediately realized something wasn’t right. She didn’t eat, and was too weak to follow me back upstairs. I had to run an errand, so I put Bella in her kennel, hoping she would be better upon my return. She wasn’t. I called the vet and decided to take her in to be checked. She was so weak she couldn’t get up the stairs. I didn’t know how I was going to get her upstairs, let alone into my SUV. Amazingly, Bella found the strength and climbed into the front seat of my car. She was panting, and her body was hot. I knew she had a fever and that something was terribly wrong.
”Dr. Gage, my veterinarian, was not in that morning, so Dr. Julie Hendershot saw Bella. After examining her, and running blood work, it was determined Bella was suffering from Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia. Her Packed Cell Volume (PCV) was 29, her gums and ears were pale. Even the once bright pink breeder’s kiss on her nose was now pale. All these events happened so quickly. I didn’t understand how sick Bella had become. It wasn’t until I asked Dr. Hendershot if Bella could die, and her response was, ‘Yes, Bella’s condition is very serious,’ did it hit me that I could lose my puppy.
”I left Bella at the clinic, and not five minutes after I arrived home, Dr. Gage called. He had returned to the office, learned of Bella’s situation, and called to make sure I understood everything, including the steps we would take. Although Bella was very sick, it was determined she didn’t need a blood transfusion. She would be put on meds (Prednisone and Imuran, aka Azathioprine) and another PCV would be run in the morning. When Dr. Gage called the next morning, Bella’s PCV was 18. I wanted to see her, and Dr. Gage encouraged a visit. (In fact, he encouraged family visits as often as we liked.) When I arrived, Bella came out of her kennel and sat in my lap for about 30 seconds, just long enough to give me a kiss and then she crawled back in to lie down. I knew she wasn’t well and that she was getting worse.
”About ten minutes after I arrived home from the clinic, Dr. Gage called to say Bella’s PCV had dropped to 13, and her chances of survival were very slim. The only option was a blood transfusion, and even that wasn’t promising. We both felt it was our only hope of saving Bella, or at least buying her body some time for the meds to kick in. The transfusion needed to be done immediately. The clinic didn’t have a blood supply on hand, so Dr. Gage, being the wonderful veterinarian that he is, had his wife bring his dog up to the clinic, where she donated her blood for Bella’s transfusion! I was so overwhelmed with gratitude that I couldn’t speak.
”Dr. Gage requested we give him about an hour, since he would like to get everything going, but he thought it would be a good idea for my husband and me to bring our kids in to see her, so we did. When we went back to her kennel, Bella was receiving the blood transfusion from ‘Doris’, who was in the kennel right next to her. When Bella saw us, she tried to stand up, and once her kennel door was opened, she slowly crawled out, gave everyone kisses, and lay down in my lap. We stayed for a while, but didn’t want to tire her out. I returned to the clinic the next day, and found Bella much happier. She was still sick, but I could tell she was feeling better. She immediately crawled out of her kennel and lay down in my lap. She stayed there for my entire visit.
”Bella remained at the Fairway Animal Hospital for one week. Every morning, Dr. Gage personally called to give me an update on how she was doing, and what her PCV was. Bella was still at the hospital over Memorial Day weekend and even though Dr. Gage wasn’t on call that weekend, he came in every day before office hours, did her PCV, and called me with her status, letting me know how she got through the night, and how she was feeling.
”Once Bella came home, she went in for checkups and blood work twice a week. These checkups were eventually backed down to once a week, then once every two weeks, then once a month. CBC’s and/or PCV’s were run and Bella’s numbers gradually climbed back into the normal ranges. She was slowly weaned off the Prednisone and then the Imuran. Bella’s most recent check-up was the end of October, 2010. Her coloring was great and the results of her CBC were wonderful. Everything indicated she was a healthy, normal dog. It is now December 2010, and Bella continues to thrive. She has regained all the weight she lost, her gums and ears are bright pink. Even her breeder’s kiss is once again a beautiful shade of pink! Bella loves playing in the back yard, chasing and catching balls, playing with the kids, and her older canine sister, Skyler, a 5 ˝ year old sheltie.
”To this day, Bella LOVES going back for her clinic visits! When we get about three blocks from Dr. Gage’s office, she starts whining and barking. She jumps out of the car, dragging me by her leash to the front door, where she anxiously waits for me. Once inside, she is greeted by the wonderful staff. When technicians and other vets hear that Bella is back, they all make a point of seeing her. Without fail, Bella sits up straight, and waits patiently in the exam room for Dr. Gage. When he enters the room, Bella greets him with a kiss! Dr. Gage and I have had numerous conversations about what a miracle dog Bella is. She had only about a 20 percent chance of survival, and yet she beat the odds. She is happy and healthy once again. It is because of Dr. Gage, and the extraordinary efforts he took, that she is still with us today. I will always be grateful to him. Words will never be enough to thank Dr. Gage for giving my dog another chance at life.”
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