Karen had originally consulted her family veterinarian at Milford Animal Hospital when Belle had started to eat dirt. After completing some initial blood work, he determined Belle had a low red blood count and prescribed an iron supplement. Belle went home, but appeared to be getting worse vs. better. Karen’s family veterinarian then referred Belle for specialty care to Foster Hospital.
Belle was admitted through Foster Hospital’s emergency and critical care department, where she underwent further testing and was immediately given a blood transfusion. Belle was able to get the care she needed immediately, benefitting from the convenience of its onsite blood bank. With Belle stabilized, emergency and critical care resident Dr. Alex Lynch embarked on a mission to determine what was causing the anemia. Bleeding was ruled out with X-rays and ultrasound, but they did detect rocks and stones in her stomach, which Dr. Lynch felt would eventually pass. She was also tested for Lyme disease and a bone marrow sample was taken.
Karen immediately knew she had come to the right place. With the pathology lab onsite staffed by board-certified pathologists, she quickly learned that Belle’s bone marrow was not producing red blood cells, a condition called pure red cell aplasia. More specifically, she learned that Belle’s autoimmune system was destroying the immature red cells in her bone marrow so no new red blood cells were being created. At home Belle had been noted to eat dirt, also called pica. This is commonly seen in animals with more chronic anemias, especially those associated with bone marrow diseases, and was consistent with her clinical diagnosis of pure red cell aplasia. Dr. Lynch prescribed cyclosporine and prednisone to calm the system down, and Prilosec to prevent stomach ulcers, while continuing to keep her stable with blood transfusions.
Belle spent the next five days at Foster Hospital, and was stabilized enough to go home where she would continue with the medications. She would, however require ongoing blood work every two weeks. It was critical that Belle be slowly weaned off these medications and monitored. “Patience was important here. It was going to be a slow process and owner Karen did everything she could to help Belle get well,” says Dr. Lynch. On the flip side, Karen credits Dr. Lynch as being one of the most patient and kind people she has met. After a long year of treatment and bi-weekly testing at Foster Hospital, Belle was gradually weaned off the medication and two months later test results were completely normal.
It was not an easy year for Karen but she is so thankful to have had convenient access to one of the most renowned academic veterinary centers in the country. And while she appreciates the level of expertise available practically in her backyard, what made the difference was the compassion of Dr. Lynch and everyone she came in contact with. Each time Karen brought Belle to Foster Hospital, she remarked at how Dr. Lynch always made the extra effort to see Belle and check on her progress.
Karen tributes Foster Hospital for saving Belle’s life and says with all certainty, “If it weren’t for Dr. Lynch, Belle may not be with me today. Foster Hospital for Small Animals measured up to its reputation and they are indeed the best of the best.”