Mama llama donates blood for baby's surgery

When Mirbella fell on the farm, her doctor knew her leg didn't look good. A broken tibia, and a break that required a specialist to fix it.

That's how Mirbella ended up at the University of Tennessee Tuesday, waiting for surgery.

Mirbella is an interesting patient. First-- she's a llama, and second-- she's anemic. So the veterinarians at UT knew she would need a blood transfusion before surgery.

Just like humans, animals sometimes need blood from another source. Also like humans, animals need a suitable donor. Luckily for Mirbella, her mother was a good match.

"Children just never stop taking from their parents," joked Dr. David Anderson, who operated on the llama. "But that's what we do as parents."

Dr. Anderson said UT handles several dozen blood transfusions every year.

"Blood transfusion has been around for a long time, and we've been doing it in animals for a long time, but [people] don't always think about it because we don't have a Red Cross bank for blood," he said.

Mirbella's mother, Keri, donated a bag of blood before her baby's surgery. Doctors added plates and screws to the llama's bone to hold it in place, before stitching up the leg.

Mirbella will now rest for several days, before eventually going home to Ohio.

Dr. Anderson said he is pleased with the surgery results, and credits Keri for the help she gave, too.

"A completely successful transfusion with no adverse reactions, and there's no doubt that's going to help [her] get up on her feet quicker and on the road to recovery."


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