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Pup’s life saved by trailblazing, hi-tech treatment

“He’s really a very lucky dog – and he’s brave too."

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Lucky pup Riley with the Vets Now team. (Vets Now via SWNS)

By Ellie Forbes via SWNS

A dog that nearly died from a rare blood disorder was saved thanks to trailblazing hi-tech treatment. And he's back to opening the treat cupboard with his nose.

Springer spaniel and border collie cross Riley, aged one, was rushed to vets by his worried owners after his temperature soared, he became lethargic, and started shaking.

Medics suspected he was suffering from a highly aggressive form of anaemia and he was taken to specialists in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Tests confirmed the pup had immune mediated haemolytic anaemia - a potentially fatal condition which leads to reduced oxygen supply to the brain and organs.

Vets recommended Riley’s owners consider a pioneering procedure called therapeutic plasma exchange.

Riley as a pup.
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The extremely complex process sees blood extracted and then piped through a purification machine before being pumped back into a patient.

Pooch Riley was saved by the treatment and six months later has made a full recovery.

Owner Lisa Gregory from Perth, Scotland, said: “He’s really a very lucky dog – and he’s brave too.

“He was so well-behaved and tolerant of all the procedures.

“In the end, he didn’t need sedating for the plasma exchange but did need a large cannula in his neck just in case of any issues.

“And the amazing thing is to look at Riley now, it’s as if nothing ever happened.

“He’s back to opening the treat cupboard with his nose.”

Riley spent eight days in intensive care at the Hospital for Small Animals, part of the University of Edinburgh, in March.

Staff carried out multiple blood transfusions to try to save his life.

Riley, who nearly died from a rare blood disorder, was saved thanks to trailblazing hi-tech treatment. (Vets Now via SWNS)

But despite aggressive immune suppressive treatment and nine blood transfusions, Riley’s condition continued to worsen.

Therapeutic plasma exchange treatment has only recently become available in Edinburgh.

Riley's owner Lisa said: “They explained that there were no guarantees whatsoever but they believed Riley had a chance of recovering if the plasma exchange was carried out.

“For Riley’s sake, we decided we had to give it a try.

“We’ve had him since he was tiny, he instantly became part of our family and we just couldn’t imagine life without him.

“We collected him from Edinburgh and drove him across to Glasgow.”

Emergency and critical care specialist vet Neus Elias, at Vets Now, carried out the pioneering treatment on the sick pup.

And Lisa and her husband Phil were amazed when just five days later Riley was ready to head home.

Neus said: “Therapeutic plasma exchange is a technique where a patient’s blood is processed to separate the components of the cells from the plasma so as to remove the harmful components.

“This technique has only been used twice before in Scotland for this disease, and once before for a different disease.

“Over the course of six hours, we slowly processed three pints of Riley’s blood.

“The watery portion of the blood was discarded, and Riley was then transfused with an equal volume of plasma products to replace this from healthy dog donors.

“The washed-out cells were then transfused back to him.

“We all remember Riley, he was such a loveable character and such a challenging case.

“We’re just so delighted he’s made such a great recovery.

“His case really does show that even in the bleakest of situations there can often be hope for your pet.”

Riley has just finished his final round of medication but still needs ongoing blood checks.

Lisa added: “Poor Riley had been so ill for so long that it seemed almost impossible to have him back to any kind of health.

“To see him walking out on his lead was a really emotional moment.

“Neus and the team at Vets Now were brilliant – they kept us informed at every stage.

“We’re very grateful to them and also to all the staff at Tay Valley Vets in Perth and at the Dick Vet.

“Riley’s had the most amazing care from everyone, and the Dick Vet even arranged a first birthday party for him to cheer him up.”

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