Nhlanhla the rhino receives plasma

Nhlanhla the rhino plasma transfusion

Our baby rhino Nhlanhla (Baby N) has been suffering from chronic diarrhea. This has been puzzling to us, as we cannot establish the exact cause. However, you will remember that Baby N was rejected by his mother as a baby, and as a result did not get any colostrum. The lack of colostrum makes him more susceptible to infections.

Resident vet, Dr Rogers, has been working closely with Dr Michael (Mike) Hewetson, an equine specialist from Onderstepoort. Dr Mike has good knowledge on hand-rearing of rhino calves and foals, and both doctors are combining their expertise and looking at what possibilities there are for Baby N.

Nhlanhla the rhino plasma transfusion

One of the options the doctors suggested was for Baby N to receive blood plasma. We managed to draw blood from our surviving rhino cows, Lion’s Den and Dingle Dell, when they recently underwent a dehorning procedure. The blood was then sent to Provet in order to extract the plasma.

On the 31st of August, the transfusion was performed. After being sedated for about 45 minutes, Baby N had received one litre of plasma. At that point we couldn’t determine how effective this would be, but hoped that the antibodies in the plasma from Lion’s Den and Dingle Dell would help Baby N’s immune system to fight against the bacteria in his system.

We gave Baby N five days of transfaunation tid treatments, but have now stopped and instead swopped milk products to see if that might be of help. Transfaunation is the transferring of a broad spectrum of micro-organisms including bacteria from the stomach of a healthy donor animal to the stomach of a sick recipient animal. The team also looked at what the faecal cultures were sensitive to in order to give the correct antibiotic treatment.

Dr Rogers will also take blood samples and do a culture of Baby N to investigate the CBC (complete blood count), and total protein for further analysis.

We will repeat the faecal culture later, and also dose him once again with bio sponge supplement to fight against the toxins in his intestines – this over and above the standard Protexin and Omepracote. Biosponge was ordered from Onderstepoort.

Nhlanhla the rhino's stool sample

Nhlanhla’s stool is watery, this gives us a good sample to send to the lab to test once again for rotavirus, cryptococcosis, etc; as well as repeat the culture and sensitivity tests. The latest results revealed what looks like corona virus on electron microscopy in another dung sample. This is usually seen in immunocompromised patients and causes enteric diseases. This may however not be the complete picture, and we will need to wait for the bacterial culture results before Dr Rogers and Dr Mike can discuss any treatment. The blood tests were also sent to Prof Fred Reyers and nothing substantial was picked up.

We are doing all we can to ensure the best possible care for Baby N. Our veterinary costs are increasing steeply. In the last three months Baby N’s veterinary costs have escalated to a staggering ZAR80,000.00! If you are able to help and would like to make a donation towards the Rescued Rhinos @ HESC sanctuary, visit our online portal. Alternatively go to PayPal, click on ‘send’, add the Wildlife Conservation Trust’s email address (accounts@wildlifeconservationtrust.co.za), choose the amount you’d like to contribute and click ‘continue’.

 

Comments

  1. I am sure the vets have already thought of this, but as a familly physician, fecal transplantation is now a recognized treatment for Clostridium difficile infection in humans. Wondering if fecal transplantation would be of any benefit in the above situation?

    1. Hi Heather,

      Your suggestion was delivered to the vet and we only did the plasma transplant. However, since we’ve had some rain Nhlanhla has bee feeding on green grass, eating mud and drinking water from a mud pool which seems to have boosted his flora. This shows that nature has its own way of repairing things in a very basic way.

  2. Thank you team HESC for working so hard to help precious Nhlanhla get healthy. He’s so very special and important! Hoping he makes a complete recovery soon.

  3. I hope many people will donate even a small amount to help this poor baby out. I will put my money where my mouth is too. Thank you so much for working so hard to save this precious baby.

    1. Hi Bernie,

      Nhlanhla is still not as healthy as we’d like him to be, but he has been showing signs of improvement. Our curators keep a close eye on him daily.

      Thank you for your concern.

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