Nina is a six-year-old German Shepherd who was referred to Dr. Adam Eatroff, head of Nephrology & Hemodialysis at ACCESS Los Angeles, for advanced treatment of myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune condition that affects the connection of the nerves to the muscles.
When Nina first came into the hospital, she was unable to walk, stand, or even support herself and we knew we had to help.
Myasthenia gravis occurs in humans and animals and not only affects the muscles of the leg, but also weakens the esophagus, a condition called megaesophagus (because the esophagus enlarges, like an empty bag). Without the ability to contract the muscles in her esophagus, Nina was unable to keep food or water down, resulting in food being regurgitated into her lungs (a life threatening problem called aspiration pneumonia). She was also facing the possibility of starvation! Animals who have megaesophagus typically have to use a Bailey Chair (a device similar to a high chair) when they eat to keep them upright, making it easier for them to swallow. Nina’s family found that a large tub with pillows inside was the best fit for their beloved Nina. She happily sits inside during mealtime and enjoys the one-on-one experience with her family and caregivers!
To treat myasthenia gravis, Dr. Eatroff used our hemodialysis machine to perform plasma exchange, a procedure that separates the portion of the blood that contains a disease-causing substance, in this case antibodies. The red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets are then put back into the patient, along with a fluid that replaces the plasma.
Nina spent about nine days in our hospital where she received treatments, went through daily exams to measure progress, and had many snuggle sessions. She was kept comfortable in the hospital and made many friends with our staff members—most notably Precious, Dr. Eatroff’s assistant, and Sheridan (see below), an RVT.
Nina regained her strength and was able to go home to continue recovering with her family, most importantly walking out the front door with no assistance needed! Hemodialysis can be used to treat many diseases, not just kidney failure, but also diseases that have nothing to do with the kidney, like myasthenia gravis and immune mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA). We are so happy we were able to help sweet Nina and get her back to her loving family! You can also follow Nina’s journey on Instagram at pup_in_a_cup_Nina!
If you have any questions about hemodialysis or plasma exchange, don’t hesitate to ask your primary veterinarian or Dr. Adam Eatroff!