‘Hero’ horse helps save the life of critically ill pony

  • An Irish draught gelding has been hailed a “special hero” after he helped save the life of a critically ill pony who urgently needed a blood transfusion.

    Coral, a 9.2hh mare who was taken in by Redwings as part of a welfare case, was losing weight. Staff noticed redworm larvae in her faeces, and she went “downhill quickly”.

    “Coral was losing protein from her intestines. It was a critical situation, and we could have lost her,” said Dawn Trayhorn, the Redwings vet who oversaw Coral’s care.

    Fellow Redwings resident Rourke, a healthy 17hh gelding, stepped forward as the “perfect” plasma donor for Coral.

    “She wouldn’t have survived without the intensive care she was given, and the plasma from Rourke was vital in getting her to turn the corner,” said Dawn.

    “Rourke did really well during the procedure and had lots of TLC and yummy dinners afterwards. He’s a real animal hero.”

    Dawn said Coral is now “doing great”.

    “She’s back at Redwings’ Caldecott visitor centre and hopefully can be rehomed at some point in future,” she said.

    “It’s amazing when we’re able to save a life. The whole team pulls together in situations like this. It’s difficult, but also what we’re here for. Coral and Rourke are very special to us.”

    To donate plasma from one horse to another, blood is taken from the donor and the plasma drawn from it. Plasma contains white blood cells and antibodies used for fighting infections. Plasma transfusions can also be used for newborn foals, who have not received adequate colostrum.

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