for Excellence by a Veterinarian in the Treatment of
Canine Autoimmune/Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia
The winner of the 2011 Meisha’s Hope Award is Dr Larry D. McKenzie. Dr.McKenzie works out of the Englewood Animal Hospital in Englewood, OH and was nominated for the Meisha’s Hope Award by The DiGiandomenico Family. The DiGiandomenico's nomination of Dr. McKenzie for the 2011 Meisha's Hope Award is reproduced below the photos.
Dr. Larry McKenzie & Tiny, November 11, 2011,
4 1/2 years after Tiny's initial IMHA diagnosis.
Dr. McKenzie with his Meisha's Hope Award,
his staff and The DiGiandomenico Family.
"Our first encounter with our beloved Tiny was in November, 1999. She had been found roaming the woods surrounding a friend’s home. She was a tiny dog, cold and lonely, already having lost the majority of her coat. She did not look healthy, but still seemed happy. Our friend brought Tiny in from the woods, hoping to eventually find her a home. One of my coworkers heard Tiny’s story and decided to adopt her. I moved to a new job and several months later called my former co-worker to see how Tiny was doing. He informed me Tiny was well, but that he was going into the Army and had no choice but to take Tiny to the pound. My heart sank and since I couldn’t stand the idea of her going to a pound, my husband and I discussed the possibility of having Tiny come to live with us. We agreed to go see Tiny again to decide if she would be a good addition to our home.
”The visit was bittersweet. Tiny absolutely loved my husband. I, however, noticed Tiny’s skin and coat condition had gotten much worse. In the months since we had seen her, Tiny had lost most of the rest of her coat except for a few small patches on her head, legs and neck. She was virtually bald everywhere else, and still very thin, but she was also the same happy dog I remembered. My husband and I discussed the situation and agreed if Tiny was sent to the pound she probably would be put down. We also agreed she had us hooked already so we decided to take her home. We put her in the car and were on our way.
”Not far into the trip Tiny began to shake, the more we drove the harder she shook. We thought she was either missing her old surroundings or didn’t like car rides. As soon as we arrived home, Tiny jumped out of the car and immediately had a very bloody and runny bowel movement. At this point, we realized Tiny was very ill. Since we had never owned a dog before, we did not have a veterinarian. Of the many veterinarians I contacted, only Englewood Animal Hospital agreed to see Tiny that day. In fact, they told me to bring her in as soon as I could get her there. Dr. McKenzie gave Tiny a very thorough examination and found she had an intestinal infestation called Giardia. He told us Giardia was a parasite which lived in and fed on a dog’s intestines. This parasite was causing Tiny’s bleeding. He also told us it was a rather difficult parasite to get rid of, and would require a prolonged use of antibiotics. Dr. McKenzie also confirmed Tiny had never been spayed, was about eight months old and also had a very severe case of Demodex Mange. She weighed all of 6.8 pounds.
”It took seven months for the mange and Giardia problems to clear up. We then had Tiny spayed. Throughout this time Dr. McKenzie was there each time we needed him. He was as dedicated to us and Tiny as he asked us to be with Tiny’s treatment, going as far to accommodate odd appointment times even if that required he and his staff work after hours.
”Tiny matured into a very energetic and happy 14 pound girl. Things were good until June 12, 2007. Returning home from work a little after 8:00 pm that day, I immediately noticed something was very wrong with Tiny. She was not at the kitchen door, tail wagging, jumping, barking and waiting to give kisses as she usually did. In fact, she didn’t (couldn’t) get off the couch. She looked so very lethargic that it appeared it was almost too much for her to pick her head up and look at me. I picked her up and placed her on the floor and she immediately dropped. The veterinarian’s office was already closed, so we took her to Emergency Veterinarian. They checked her PCV & RBC levels (Pack Cell Volume / Red blood cell) and found it was only 9. The veterinarian believed Tiny had IMHA and also believed she needed an immediate blood transfusion or she wouldn’t survive the night. My husband and I agreed to the transfusion and after it was given, Tiny’s PCV only rose to 14.
”Since Emergency Veterinary clinics are open only during overnight hours, the next morning, we had to transfer Tiny back to Dr. McKenzie’s office in Englewood, 40 miles away. Dr. McKenzie was there waiting for Tiny when we arrived at 8 am. He had received Tiny’s information from the Emergency Veterinarian via fax and quickly gave her a thorough check-up. He confirmed Tiny did have IMHA and explained we needed to leave her at his office overnight. One night turned into several, and they were very long and lonely nights for my husband and me. Dr. McKenzie and his staff continually reassured us that Tiny was in the best place she could be, no matter how long it was going to take to get healthy again. She was given IV fluids, her PCV was continually monitored and she was started on Prednisolone and Cyclosporine. She had all the attention she needed, even if it wasn’t from us. Dr. McKenzie and his staff called several times a day to update us on Tiny’s progress. Tiny’s PCV slowly climbed back into the high 20’s, and she was allowed to go home. She was still taking Prednisolone and Cyclosporine and also required weekly PCV checks as well as bi-weekly CBC and Chem-20 checks. Many of these tests were scheduled by Dr. McKenzie’s office for 6:00 or 6:30 pm to accommodate our work schedules. Normal business hours at Dr. McKenzie’s office ended at 6 pm, yet every after-hour greeting by the staff was warm and friendly.
”As Tiny’s PCV increased toward normal, her medication levels were decreased. After eight months, Dr. McKenzie suggested we take her off Cyclosporine and reduce her Prednisolone intake. Another short period of time later, since things were still going well, Dr. McKenzie suggested discontinuing the Prednisolone. We agreed, but within a couple of days Tiny was in severe trouble again. I had been working in the yard and after coming back into the house I found two very large blood stains on the floor. It looked like pure blood. I saw Tiny was very week and lethargic again and her gums and tongue were almost pure white. Because Dr. McKenzie understood how quickly Tiny’s condition could deteriorate, he had given us his personal cell phone number. We called him and even though it was Sunday afternoon, Dr. McKenzie said to bring Tiny to the office, where he gave her a complete blood transfusion. We stayed with her as long as he would allow until eventually he told us to go home and not to worry; he would take good care of Tiny. Tiny stayed at Englewood overnight and into the next day. When we picked her up the following evening, her PCV was already rising. Tiny was put back on Prednisolone and Cyclosporine and, again, we went back to the weekly and bi-weekly blood testing. This was difficult as both myself and my husband worked more than 60 miles from Dr. McKenzie’s practice. Again, our schedules were accommodated without question.
”Altogether, Tiny had three severe episodes of IMHA all which required blood transfusions. My husband and I learned how to spot signs of coming ‘episodes’. We became more proactive in managing her illness and took all changes in her energy level, mood and the general look in her eye as an indication that it was time to react.
”The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, 2011 Tiny developed soars on the underside of her tongue which started turning gangrenous by Sunday. By Sunday evening she was unable to eat or drink. When we took her to see Dr. McKenzie on Monday, we all agreed that there was nothing more that could be done. Dr. McKenzie believed the mouth soars were probably a side effect of kidney failure and the buildup of uremic acid in her system. He also mentioned the possibility of a thrombosis which could cut off the circulation to the main vein which supplies blood to the tongue. I could have never imagined such a scenario would unfold and take our little girl. We miss her terribly, but know in our hearts that we did all that we could do for her and know that she is now at peace.
”There is no doubt in my mind that if Dr. McKenzie and his staff had not been with us along this journey, we would have lost Tiny a long time ago. Dr. McKenzie has many years of veterinary experience and knowledge and also has so much dedication and compassion for his patients and his patient’s families. For the entire time Tiny was in our lives we went to the Englewood Animal Hospital. The same staff which was there when we first brought Tiny in on that cold February day in 2000 is still there today. This indicates to me how well Dr. McKenzie is regarded by those who work for him. No ‘Thank You’ will ever be able to express the gratitude we will always have for those who have played such an important role in Tiny’s care. The years together with our precious little Tiny were made very special by this tremendous group of people. Dr. McKenzie and his entire staff are all truly THE BEST!”
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