The Meisha's Hope Bandanna
When a dog is diagnosed with autoimmune hemolytic anemia/immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, its owner/caregiver is seldom prepared for dealing with such a serious life-threating illness. Many times their first question will be, what can I expect in terms of survival and quality of life for my dog.
The "Success Stories" page is presented in order to answer those questions. We hope to show owner/caregivers whose dogs have recently been diagnosed with autoimmune hemolytic anemia/immune-mediated hemolytic anemia that there is indeed hope. Over the coming months we will feature dogs who have been diagnosed with this disease and who are now living normal lives. Many of them have had no reoccurrence of the disease whatsoever. I hope you will be encouraged and filled with hope as you read these stories. I plan to change the stories on a monthly basis, so stop back often.
Colby is a 6 year old neutered male Newfoundland/Malamute mix owned by Tara of Thornton, NH. Colby was diagnosed with immune-mediated hemolytic anemia on January 27, 2011.
When Tara was asked to comment on Colby’s symptom’s prior to his IMHA diagnosis she replied, “Colby’s IMHA came on very quickly. Within a couple of days, Colby went from a dog full of life to one near death. He was very lethargic and on the second day of this lethargy I noticed blood in his urine when I came home from work, at noon, to check on him. Panicked, I called the veterinarian who told me Colby probably had a urinary tract infection. I knew that wasn't the case because it was pure blood that had been urinated so I rushed Colby to the veterinarian. After tests were run, I was told that it was nothing serious and we were sent home.
“The next day I could hardly get Colby to move, so I again rushed him to the veterinarian. They finally checked his blood counts and realized there was more wrong with him then they initially had thought. Colby was diagnosed him IMHA, immediately given a blood transfusion and hospitalized overnight. The following day Colby was no better. After blood testing revealed his PCV was 9, I was referred to an emergency veterinary clinic about 45 minutes away since it better equipped to treat Colby.
“Upon admittance to the emergency veterinary clinic Colby was given another blood transfusion and started on antibiotics, Prednisone, Mycophenolate (Cellcept ) and Doxycycline. Because Colby had such a low PCV, the doctors were not optimistic that Colby would survive. They told me that treatment would be extremely expensive with no guarantees. I was heartbroken but, because Colby is such an amazing dog, I was determined to fight for him until the end, no matter the cost. After a four day stay at the emergency veterinary clinic I was able to bring Colby and a pharmacy of medications home, but he was far from out of the woods.
"After Colby developed stomach ulcers from the prednisone, it was tapered and eventually stopped and replaced with Cyclosporine, baby aspirin, Mirtazapine as an appetite stimulant as well as Famotidine and Omeprazole for ulcers. Colby’s appetite had diminished to the point that I had resorted to feeding him with a syringe to get some nourishment into him. When he started vomiting and had diarrhea I rushed him back to the emergency clinic. He had also lost an alarming amount of weight by this time. An ultrasound showed that Colby had two blood clots near his liver. I was referred to Tufts Veterinary Hospital, which was hour and a half away from me. I took Colby to Tufts and they immediately rushed him into the ICU and started him on IV Heparin and Clopidogrel (Plavix). It was so very frightening to leave Colby since we could not be sure what the outcome would be, however, the staff at Tufts were amazing. They gave me the ICU phone number so I could check in with them whenever I wanted to know how Colby was doing. The second day Colby was at Tufts I was told that it didn't look good for him since he was not improving and it seemed he was getting worse. I immediately rushed there and spent a few hours in the ICU with him, just holding him, talking to him and willing him better. I left that night not sure if I'd ever see him alive again. I was beyond heartbroken at this point.
”The next morning I called Tufts and spoke to the resident who had spent the night in Colby's pen talking to him and petting him all night long. Colby, even as sick as he was, charmed the whole Tufts veterinary staff and they went above and beyond the call of duty to help him recover. The resident said it looked like the clots were beginning to break up a bit. When I picked Colby up to bring him home, two days later, I was given syringes filled with heparin that I had to give him three times a day for three days. Colby was also prescribed 75 mg of Clopidogrel (Plavix) once per day upon his release from Tufts. After that, slowly but surely, Colby started making progress. While there were some setbacks and adjustments to the medications he was taking, the weight started coming back on. When his infamous ‘Woo Woo’ greeting (which I had sorely missed) returned with gusto I knew he'd be OK! As Colby’s PCV continued to rise and stabilize we slowly started to reduce his medications.”
When Tara was asked to comment on the current state of Colby’s heath she replied, “Colby is in great health. His PCV at his last blood check on April 24, 2013 was 49. Colby is currently taking one 500 mg capsule of Mycophenolate (Cellcept) once a week for the treatment of IMHA. I admit, I now worry over every little sneeze Colby has or if he happens to have a quiet day, thinking that maybe the IMHA is back. But, thankfully he is happy, playful and back to being the big loving oaf he was before he was sick. When Colby is outside running around, he has the biggest smile on his face! It's just so incredible to see him back to a healthy weight and feeling so full of life and joy again. I'm so glad I didn't take the advice of the local veterinarian to stop fighting for Colby’s life and that I went full steam ahead with treatment and the rollercoaster ride that went with it. Colby’s ‘Woo Woo’ howls that greet me in the morning and every day, when I come home, as well as his big goofy smile are what made this whole journey worth it. He is truly one amazing dog.
”The biggest lesson I learned from Colby’s bout with IMHA is to trust your instincts in regard to your dog. My local veterinarian originally said Colby just had a cold and would be fine. I knew differently because I knew Colby. I kept insisting something else was wrong and when he started urinating pure blood I insisted they test to find out what was wrong. The worst hours were when Colby was at Tufts with blood clots. We truly thought he would never come home. I spent hours in his cage with him there. I believe this helped him pull through. I know Colby’s outcome won't be everyone's experience, but I want people to know that many dogs DO survive AIHA/IMHA. I wanted to share Colby's IMHA Success Story to give others the hope that I found while reading the Success Stories here at the Meisha’s Hope Web site. I clung to this hope while I was going through the whirlwind of bad news after bad news. Hopefully Colby’s Success Story will help to give that same hope to others who have a dog diagnosed with AIHA/IMHA.”
The Meisha's Hope Award
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To read about the winner of the 2011 Meisha’s Hope Award and the Honorable Mention Nominees Click Here
To read about the winner of the 2010 Meisha’s Hope Award and the Honorable Mention Nominees Click Here
To read about the winner of the 2009 Meisha’s Hope Award and the Honorable Mention Nominees Click Here
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- The Meisha's Hope Web site gives a donation to the Meisha's Hope AIHA/IMHA Fund # 338 at Morris Animal Foundation in honor of every dog that appears on the success stories page. To learn how you can help fund humane canine AIHA/IMHA health studies at Morris Animal Foundation Click Here
- Each dog who appears on the Success Stories page receives a Meisha's Hope Bandanna. To learn more about The Meisha's Hope Bandanna Click Here
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To view more Success Stories, click below to visit the Success Stories archives.
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Success Stories Jan. 2013 - April 2013
If you have a dog or know of a dog who has survived AIHA/IMHA for at least one year and you would like their story told on this page please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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