This week, our Sea Turtle Healing Center experienced a first: One of our healthy, but unreleasable sea turtle residents was a blood donor for a critical patient at another facility.
Green sea turtle McNubbins provided blood for another green sea turtle named Caterpillar, who was a critical patient at the Sea Turtle Hospital at Whitney Laboratory in St. Augustine, Florida.
McNubbins came to us in November 2021 missing all of their left front flipper and most of their right front flipper. These injuries prevent McNubbins from being released back to the water, so she is staying at our Healing Center while awaiting a “forever home” at an aquarium or other facility.
“McNubbins has healed injuries that prevent her from being releasable, but she is otherwise healthy and fit to donate blood,” said one of our staff veterinarians Dr. Kyle Donnelly.
Blood transfusions at our own Healing Center are not an everyday occurrence, but they do happen occasionally for critical patients. While sea turtles likely have blood types, this hasn’t been confirmed. To get around that and make transfusions safer we perform cross-matches to assess blood compatibility – a protocol developed by a team including Dr. Donnelly. This protocol checks to see if there are antibodies in the recipient or donor of a blood transfusion that could cause a bad reaction when mixed.
Unfortunately, Caterpillar did not recover from their illness – a severe blood infection that caused a bleeding disorder. Still, we were glad to be able to help another sea turtle and hope to be able to expand our ability to support other nearby facilities with the eventual construction of our Aquarium.
“We have a close relationship with nearby facilities, and we are happy to help each other out when needed,” Dr. Donnelly said.
Have you found a sea turtle that needs help? Visit this page or call the Sea Turtle Preservation Society at 321-206-0646.