All Turtle Patients

Meet Faith, The First Turtle In Maldives To Receive a Blood Transfusion

Faith was a critically endangered juvenile hawksbill turtle. She was rescued by Diamonds Athuruga Beach and Water Villas.

Intake Date: 4th May 2019
Length: 35 cm
Weight: 3.7 kg
Status: Deceased 12th May 2019

Faith was adopted by Dajana Schmidt and by Verena Wiesbauer for Ingrid

Faith came in a near comatose state with a severely injured flipper. We tested her blood and found that she had very few blood cells left. A test called packed cell volume (pcv) measures the red blood cells, sea turtles should have a pcv of between 24 and 34. This little turtle had a pcv of just 3. This is incompatible with life in most species. With this little amount of blood she was still clinging to life with a badly injured flipper, most likely from a ghost net.

Due to her comatose state and lack of blood pressure we had to surgically catheterise her jugular vein to get venous access for the transfusion. We used Heidi, our only healthy adult turtle, as a donor for blood. Heidi was very brave and got a big dinner as a thank you for helping save the life of the little hawksbill. Due to limited island resources we made our own transfusion kit and added anticoagulant to the donor blood to prevent it clotting before administration.

Faith is the first animal in Maldives to have received a blood transfusion. Initially she improved and regained her reflexes. She even moved a little and we surgically placed a feeding tube into her stomach so we could give her food. She remained in a critical condition, however.

We tested her blood again and there was a good improvement after the blood transfusion: Her number of blood cells almost after the blood transfusion.

We were happy with the result, as you cannot transfuse large volumes of blood into sea turtles due to their kidneys. To have doubled her PCV was a success and we hoped it would push her towards recovery.

Faith was too weak to be in a tank. Instead she rested in a shady padded area on iv fluids, antibiotics and liquid critical care food multiple times a day.

Sadly Faith never fully recovered. About a week after coming to the rescue centre, she passed away. It turns out she also suffered from severe liver disease.

We did everything we possibly could to save this critically endangered hawksbill. We were devastated when she passed away.

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