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It has been almost 10 months since that devastating day my precious Labrador Retriever Hunter was diagnosed with a rare form of immune mediated non-regenerative anemia, red cell aplasia. He was diagnosed on Christmas Eve. On January 5th the veterinarian who had seen him since he was a puppy told me to take him home and love him because there was nothing more that could be done. My beloved Hunter was dying. We might have 2 weeks left. I could not accept that my six- year old, who had been my baby since I brought him home at six weeks of age, was dying. I knew it was not his time. I was not going to let my Hunter die.

I got on the phone that night and called Iowa Veterinary Specialties (IVS) in Des Moines to set up an appointment for Hunter as soon as possible. I was able to get Hunter an appointment on Thursday morning. It was Tuesday night. As luck would have it, a blizzard was coming our way from the west (the direction we needed to go to get to Des Moines). I was praying, reading the Bible, and begging everyone for their prayers. Through a blizzard and black ice and only with the help of warm-hearted friends, Hunter and I made it to Des Moines the following night. The next morning our IVS doctor told us Hunter was not going to die. All I could do was thank God, but we had a long difficult road ahead of us.

Arrived at IVS, I don't feel so well

Only days later, Hunter's long road began as he had his first blood transfusion (remarkably, an anonymous donation that day paid almost the entire bill for Hunter's transfusion). It wasn't even 2 weeks later when Hunter had to have his second transfusion. Hunter was on 150 mg of Prednisone (he weighed about 95 pounds) and 50 mg of Azathiaprine. He was taking Soloxine for his thyroid and sucralfate and misoprostal for his stomach. Also, Hunter was on Marin and Pet Tinic to help build his blood back up.

Through his treatment, Hunter lost most of his muscle tone. His head looked like it had caved in and that the skin was stretched over the bones. He panted all night and I would stay awake and worry. He could no longer get on my bed or even get in the car, we had to lift him. He could not tolerate rolling over for his much loved tummy rubs.

Prednisone takes a toll: Feb 10, 2010

At one point (because of the high dosage of Prednisone), Hunter could not empty his bladder completely and needed to be catheterized. Sometimes he had accidents in the house too and Hunter never had accidents before this. The left side of his face became partially paralyzed. He drooled incessantly. Hunter couldn't blink his eyes, he needed eye drops to do that. His nose dried up and became brittle, so we used hemorrhoid medication to keep it moist. He limped. He was weak. I prayed and kept asking for prayers.

Despite all the bad, Hunter's blood count was going up. Through coordinated care between IVS, the Animal Emergency Center and the Animal Family Veterinary Care Center in Davenport, Hunter Gradually began to get better. We were able to wean him down from all the medications. His facial paralysis disappeared and he could blink on his own again. He was getting stronger day by day.

In July, we went back to Des Moines to IVS. Our doctor told us that he believed the DHPP (Distemper Hepatitis Parvo Para-influenza) booster that Hunter received in November, 2009 had caused Hunter to become ill and that Hunter should not have any other vaccinations again. He felt that if Hunters illness ever returned, it could be quickly managed with the Azathiaprine alone and Hunter's recovery would be much quicker this time. He suggested that if Hunter's blood count was good in a month, we should eliminate all medications. A month later Hunter's blood count was good and all of Hunter's medications were eliminated! Hunter was on his way to a good recovery.

Hunter has been off all his medications (except the Soloxine, which he will take the rest of his life) now for almost 2 months. His blood work is good and his PCV has remained around 45%. He shed terribly after he went off the Prednisone, but that has stopped and he has finally grown back the fur from where he was shaved in January. Hunter runs and loves to fetch again and can now even jump on the bed! And most of all, he is Hunter. It was not Hunter's time to leave me yet. Someday it will be, but not yet. Hunter turned 7 in April.

All the donations, the prayers, the people who helped me made all the difference. I will never be able to thank IVS enough and the care that all three hospitals (IVS, the

My Hunter and me: Oct 1,2010

Animal Emergency Center and Animal Family Veterinary Care Center in Davenport) gave to Hunter. The love, caring, and support given to both Hunter and I was incredible. The ride to get here today was hard but worth every mile we traveled. I learned so much and found incredible friends and support along the way. I learned that if you truly believe that the mountain will be moved and do not waiver in your faith, the mountain will move. We moved a mountain for Hunter! God bless every one of you that helped Hunter and I.

With our love and gratitude,
Debbie and Hunter

Published on October 4, 2016

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IVS Partner's in Progress CE Event 2019

On April 3, 2019 there were twenty-one speakers offering the second annual ISU – IVS Partners in Progress CE Event at the Des Moines Botanical Center. This CE Event was open to all... read more >