About Dialysis Plasma Exchange Unit for Tennessee's Pets
The Frankie’s Friends Dialysis for Pets Unit will be the only dialysis machine in the state for pets in Tennessee, northern Alabama and Kentucky. Frankie’s Friends will own the equipment and has chosen BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Franklin as the host hospital. Patients will be treated without charge for equipment usage. Ancillary costs will be charged per the hospital’s pricing structure.
The drive to acquire the dialysis machines and establish a dialysis unit in Tennessee began after Dr. Margaret Phillips, a Nashville based veterinarian’s dog, Sandee, was struck with heatstroke, which caused her kidneys to completely shut down. Dialysis would have given veterinarians the opportunity to continue to provide Sandee aggressive supportive care in the hope that her kidney function would recover.
The Zander family also got involved after their puppy, Gracie, was diagnosed with kidney failure. Unfortunately, Gracie died after several weeks of care and the Zander Family Foundation made a significant donation in her honor so that other pets wouldn’t have to suffer as well.
The Frankie’s Friends Dialysis for Pets unit will include two dialysis machines, one to be named Sandee, and the other Gracie, in memory of the two pets who inspired the project and made the funding possible.
Dialysis and plasma exchange technologies are effective in treating conditions as diverse as heat stroke, antifreeze toxicity, IMHA, leptospirosis, fluid overload, and other conditions commonly seen in emergency and critical care practices.
In some cases, such as leptospirosis and IMHA, the technology provides elevated levels of supportive care for organ function to buy time for other treatments to more fully address the underlying cause of illness. In other situations, such as antifreeze toxicity, quickly dialyzing to detoxify a patient’s system can not only save the patient’s life, but save hundreds of dollars in treatment costs.
Treating Tennessee’s Pets
As importantly as the potential cost savings, prior to the inception of the Frankie’s Friends Dialysis for Pets Unit, animals in Middle Tennessee had a significant disadvantage in that the closest locations with the appropriate equipment were at least five hours away. In addition to travel time, which can compromise treatment effectiveness, there are additional expenses incurred by the patient’s family including hotel accommodations, meals, potentially lost time from work. Bringing this technology to Tennessee will truly help to save the lives of pets in need.
Dr. Marc Bercovitch of BluePearl’s internal medicine/critical care team created the first hemodialysis unit for cats and dogs in private veterinary practice in the United States in the early 1990s. As a pioneer in this modality, his breadth of experience will be invaluable to bringing these treatments to Middle Tennessee’s pets.
The dialysis machines are currently being ordered and are expected to be available for use later in 2018.