Story of a Rescue Dog Just in Time for Christmas
Years ago there was a small puppy that came into our hospital from a local rescue group. She had been spayed by the rescue that morning, but she wasn’t recovering from anesthesia in the normal fashion. The little puppy, so happy and excitable before the surgery, lay in a quiet mound, shivering and dull. The volunteer staff gave us a call, and Dr. Knipe examined her that evening. The puppy was very weak. She could barely walk, her gum color was pale white, and her body temperature was low. After assessing her weak pulses and rapid heart rate, Dr. Knipe performed a FAST ultrasound of her abdomen, and soon knew exactly what was happening. The little pup was bleeding, rapidly, due to a complication from her spay earlier that morning.
Dr. Knipe and nurse Dana, went about preparing the puppy for surgery, knowing they had little time left to save her. Dr. Knipe delicately re-opened the spay incision, and found an abdomen filled with blood. The puppy needed a transfusion immediately, and the life saving fluid was plentiful and available right there. Within minutes the blood was sterilely transferred to a collection system, filtered and administered back to the little dog. Dr. Knipe quickly finished the surgery, and saved the puppy’s life. Meanwhile, the blood transfusion, well in progress, was achieving dramatic results. The puppy’s blood pressure, body temperature, and all other essential parameters were stabilizing rapidly. She was going to live. When asked today, both Dr. Knipe and Dana independently view the experience as nothing short of miraculous.
This time of year, especially after this particular year, we all hope for miracles. We reflect on the past 12 months, and feel grateful for the times when we could utter the words, “It was a miracle.” Although Dr. Knipe and Dana worried the situation was hopeless for that little puppy, a miracle was witnessed that day. That said, the true miracle goes back even further, and that is the miracle of progress in medicine.
The first successful blood transfusion is thought to have occurred as early as 1665 when an English physician, Richard Lower, successfully transfused blood between two dogs. Researchers in 1907 improved the safety of transfusion medicine by cross matching and recognizing blood types. The need for sterility during surgery was recognized and pioneered in the 1860s by Joseph Lister. On October 16, 1846, history was made by surgeon John Collins Warren in Massachusetts General Hospital by performing the first successful surgery using anesthesia.
All these medical advancements and discoveries were improved upon and, many more than 100 years later, used by our small hospital to save the life of one little rescue dog. Miracles, in fact, are often a long time in the making. We hope you have a wonderful, safe and healthy holiday season, and that your future is filled with miracles and hope.
–With love, the staff at Longwood Veterinary Center