Monday, May 2, 2011

An ACCES Success Story: Sasha the Greyhound

By Jean Maixner, DVM
It was a typical drizzly and chilly February day when Mr. Rodgers saw his newly adopted greyhound companion Sasha hit by a careening car.  Mr. Rodgers rushed to Sasha’s side to find him weak and dazed, fighting for each breath.
Sasha was immediately taken to the Eastlake Veterinary hospital.   His gums were grey as he labored to breathe.  A quick radiograph revealed bleeding and bruised lungs.  Sasha had a tear in his lungs that released his breaths into his chest cavity.  Once in his chest cavity, the inhaled air could not escape, threatening Sasha’s life. The veterinarian worked quickly to remove the air and blood from his chest - with a needle and syringe he drew blood and air out, liters of air.  But even as the veterinarian drew air out, Sasha breathed more in, compressing his lungs so they couldn’t inflate.   Sasha was critical and needed 24 hour intensive care; he was transferred to Animal Critical Care and Emergency Services (ACCES).


Dr. Wassink and the ACCES team were ready for Sasha when he arrived. They quickly went to work and started him on oxygen support, while placing an IV catheter and checking his vital signs.  Dr. Wassink knew Sasha was going to need chest tubes to remove the accumulating air and fluid. The big dog was sedated; tubes were swiftly placed between his ribs and into the air and blood-filled chest cavity.  As the air and blood were suctioned off, Sasha was able to inflate his lungs and breathe.  There was a sigh of relief and smiles around the emergency room as everyone saw Sasha begin to take bigger and bigger breaths until he was breathing easier. 
However, the relief was short-lived as Sasha continued to bleed into his chest. He now needed a blood transfusion.  Dr. Wassink consulted with the ACCES Critical Care Specialist, Dr. Davidow, and they decided the best way to help Sasha was to auto-transfuse him.  They would collect the blood from his chest to further help his breathing, and then give the blood back to him as a blood transfusion.  The ACCES staff collected the blood and carefully transfused it back into him through his IV catheter. The auto-transfusion helped to stabilize Sasha that afternoon.

Sasha receiving an autotransfusion

Through the afternoon and night Sasha remained critical.  He stayed in ACCES’s ICU on oxygen support, while continuous suction was applied to his chest tubes to remove the excess air and blood, and he was constantly monitored by the ICU nurses and veterinarians.  By the next morning Sasha was more comfortable, but he still needed intensive care.  He was still anemic from bleeding into his chest cavity and was given a second blood transfusion, this time from an ACCES Blood Bank community donor.  Sasha was maintained on pain medication and watched closely.
Over the next 24 hours, Sasha’s lung tear started to seal, and less air could be removed from his chest cavity.  The continuous suction was disconnected.  His pain medication and sedation were gradually weaned down.  He started eating and drinking on his own, and began walking outside.  Two and a half days after his accident, Sasha was breathing well enough on his own that his chest tubes were removed. Today this big beautiful boy is home, enjoying life with his loving adopted family.  

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