Khanyisa receives blood from Zindoga, a young male bull of the Jabulani Herd.

May 15, 2020

When orphan albino Khanyisa's condition turned two days ago, we sent a blood sample for testing at the same time as her dung sample. Fortunately, blood sample testing has a quicker turnaround time than the dung sampling, which we are still waiting for results from.

The blood test results showed lower albumin levels in her blood, which could mean she was not absorbing protein from her diet. We decided together with wildlife vet Dr. Rogers to do a blood transfusion to not only get her albumin levels up but to help increase her immunity too. Her cortisol levels tested in her blood were low (stress hormones), so we have been able to remove stress as a possible cause to the diarrhea she had been experiencing.

Close up of Khanyisa
Little Khanyisa has not been feeling well

Fortunately, with the Jabulani herd at close reach, we had access to blood from one of their bulls, Zindoga (Bubi's son). He also needed veterinary attention due to an injury he got from fighting with Mambo the day before, so the timing worked well to be able to treat him for that at the same time.

At 9AM Dr. Rogers started the process with Zindoga, using a standing sedation treatment called BAM, which we feel is less stressful on a big elephant. Unfortunately, with the cooler temperature, it can causes arteries and veins (in this case arteries) to contract, restricting the easy flow of blood- and so it took quite a long time to fill the blood bags (four in total).

Dr Rogers taking blood from Zindoga, a male bull of the Jabulani herd.
Dr Rogers taking blood from Zindoga, a male bull of the Jabulani herd.

Once the bags were filled with blood from Zindoga, we moved to the orphanage to start with the transfusion. We used standing sedation on Khanyisa too. We battled to get a vein, and fortunately, we had two hot water bottles on hand that were donated to us, that we placed against the ears to get her blood flowing, it worked a charm!

Water bottle was used to help warm the ear to get blood flow moving.
Adine assisting Dr. Rogers and Janelle with a water bottle to help heat up Khanyisa's ears to get blood flow moving.

She received the four bags of blood simultaneously to reduce the time under sedation, but it took longer than we had hoped and Dr Rogers had to top up her sedation. The four bags took two hours to complete. Dr Rogers also administered some other vital fluids, including saline and glucose.

Four bags of blood administered

When we woke her up, she was so disorientated. It broke Adine's heart, of course, at that stage she was quite emotional and tired, and in her words "it took a lot to not break down in tears."

Her elephant carer Khensani was truly a gem of a nurse through the procedure; she worked so hard and was so natural in her caring for Khanyisa, even though Khanyisa will soon be taller than her!

Khensani with Khanyisa. Khensani was a great nurse.
Khensani helped care for Khanyisa during the transfusion.

When she was looking strong again, she went to feed on the grass in the area behind the orphanage, and her dung returned to water, our hearts dropped.

She took an afternoon nap outside in the gardens with an extra blanket, and her stools have started to improve and become more solid. We are happy that she is drinking her milk well and her appetite is good.

Reply sitting with Adine and Khanyisa in the gardens after the transfusion
Reply sitting with Adine and Khanyisa in the gardens after the transfusion

We will keep you updated on her condition!

If you would like to contribute to HERD and Khanyisa's well being please go to www.herd.org.za/product/donate

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