Photo Courtesy of University of Florida

Photo Courtesy of University of Florida

Veterinary medicine has evolved substantially from the time when the veterinarian’s arsenal of treatment options could usually be packed into a single satchel. Today, highly sophisticated, specific and life-saving technologies are available to give pet owners options that address conditions that previously were untreatable or were treatable with less effective – and sometimes, more expensive -- measures.

One of the promising technologies being used more often in veterinary medicine today is the equipment that is used to perform dialysis and therapeutic plasma exchange.

Dialysis and plasma exchange technologies are effective in treating conditions as diverse as heat stroke, antifreeze toxicity, IMHA, leptospirosis, fluid overload, and other conditions commonly seen in emergency and critical care practices. 

In some cases, such as leptospirosis and IMHA, the technology provides elevated levels of supportive care for organ function to buy time for other treatments to more fully address the underlying cause of illness. In other situations, such as antifreeze toxicity, quickly dialyzing to detoxify a patient’s system can not only save the patient’s life, but save hundreds of dollars in treatment costs. 

Treating Tennessee’s Pets

Animals in Middle Tennessee have a significant disadvantage in receiving this type of treatment, as the closest locations to Nashville with the appropriate equipment are at least five hours away (Auburn AL and Athens GA). The next closest alternatives are 8-12 hours away (Raleigh NC, Gainesville FL, Baton Rouge LA, Carrollton TX, Philadelphia PA). 

In addition to travel time, which can compromise treatment effectiveness, there are additional expenses incurred by the patient’s family, including hotel accommodations, meals and potential lost time from work. 

The Campaign

Frankie’s Friends is raising $60,000 to purchase dialysis/plasma exchange equipment and start-up materials. Frankie’s Friends will own the equipment and has chosen BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Franklin as the host hospital. Patients will be treated without charge for the equipment usage. Ancillary costs will be charged per the hospital’s pricing structure. Families may be eligible for additional financial support from Frankie’s Friends if they have financial need and if funds are available.

Why BluePearl

Frankie’s Friends was approached to consider this campaign on behalf of Tennessee’s pets by BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Franklin and a BluePearl client, whose dog may have survived a heat stroke if this equipment had been available.

The project is consistent with Frankie’s Friends’ mission of saving pets with life threatening conditions. Furthermore, it is a compelling project because Dr. Marc Bercovitch of BluePearl’s internal medicine/critical care team created the first hemodialysis unit for cats and dogs in a private veterinary practice in the United States in the early 1990s. As a pioneer in this modality, his breadth of experience will be invaluable to bringing these treatments to Middle Tennessee’s pets.