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Multiple Hospital Services Join Forces to Save Dog Hospitalized for 48 Days

November 3, 2014

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Ragan was hospitalized at the VMTH for 48 days.

VMTH "Case of the Month" - November 2014

Ragan, an 8-year-old Irish terrier, was suffering from immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (ITP) when she was brought to the emergency room at the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. ITP caused Ragan’s immune system to destroy the platelets in her blood, which meant her blood was unable to clot. Something as simple as a bump or a bruise could cause Ragan to internally bleed to death. First diagnosed with ITP five years earlier, Ragan had been hospitalized a few times before when her platelet count went down to zero. Thankfully, her condition had been managed with medication until this relapse.

When Ragan presented to the Emergency Service, she was not alert, was bleeding from the nose and had bloody diarrhea. Her red blood cell (which carry oxygen) count was only 19 percent (normal is 35-40 percent), and zero platelets could be seen microscopically. Her white blood cell (which make up the blood’s immune system) count was also discovered to be extremely low. Lacking three of the four blood components (platelets, red cells, white cells), essentially all that was remaining in Ragan’s bloodstream was the fourth component – plasma. Her blood cells had become nonfunctioning.

After being stabilized by the emergency veterinarians, Ragan was transferred to the specialists in Internal Medicine, who worked with the hospital’s Transfusion Medicine Service to handle her fragile condition. Ragan was treated with a variety of medications and procedures, including numerous blood and platelet transfusions, immunosuppressives, darbepoetin (to promote red blood cell growth), neupogen (to promote white blood cell growth), gastro-protectants, and antibiotics.
Luckily for Ragan, the VMTH operates the largest veterinary blood bank in the western United States. Ragan’s multiple transfusions were swiftly performed with blood from the hospital’s local canine donor base. Several times a week, locally-owned dogs visit the hospital to donate blood. The blood is then processed and stored in an extensive on-site bank, allowing the VMTH to perform more than 600 transfusions per year.  

Due to Ragan’s fragile condition, and her need to stay in a clean controlled environment, she remained hospitalized at the VMTH for 48 days. Beyond the bloodwork and transfusions, she also had her spleen removed in hopes of managing her ITP, and also suffered from pancreatitis and three episodes of sepsis, which nearly caused her to die. Being the largest veterinary teaching hospital in the world, the VMTH was well prepared to handle all of Ragan’s complications. UC Davis veterinarians, technicians and staff were amazed at Ragan’s determination to survive.

Eight months after her hospitalization, Ragan’s recovery has been stellar. Now 9-years-old, she is vibrant and healthy once again. According to her family, Ragan has “lots of energy and is running around, acting like a puppy. We can’t thank the doctors and technicians enough for saving her life.”

About the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital
The William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis—a unit of the School of Veterinary Medicine—provides state-of-the-art clinical care while serving as the primary clinical teaching experience for DVM students and post graduate veterinarian residents. The VMTH treats more than 47,000 animals a year, ranging from cats and dogs to horses, cows and exotic species. To learn more about the VMTH, please go to Timely news updates can be received on its Facebook ( and Twitter ( pages.

Rob Warren
VMTH Communications & Marketing Officer