Every month we will share something special from TMR Rescue.
Whether it's one of our amazing animals, employees, volunteers, or information, we look forward to bringing you something heartwarming or informative.
Benny-Defying the odds
When it comes to defying the odds one of our most heartwarming stories is of Benny.
It was cold that day in January when we got the word that there were five miniature donkeys in various stages of starvation- and one was a baby. We knew we would experience a hard freeze that night and a malnourished baby would not survive, we immediately hooked up the trailer and headed to Bertram, TX which was over 3 hours away.
It was dark when we arrived, and the elderly couple who were unable to continue caring for the animals showed us where the donkeys were located so we could get them loaded. One look at tiny, frail Benny and we knew our first stop would be TAMU Large Animal Hospital in Bryan TX. Despite it being late the staff were ready to assess them all and gave little Benny a 20% chance of survival.
During the night baby Benny's bladder had burst, so those odds dropped to a bleak 10%. The future for this adorable little tyke was fading with each moment that passed. So, when they asked permission to perform the surgery to repair his bladder we did not hesitate to give Benny a chance at life. We knew he was special and wanted to give him every chance to survive.
Every day after the surgery was a challenge as Benny faced one ordeal after another. He lost his eyesight, and his immune system was severely compromised due to the medications he was on. A biopsy sample of his bone marrow revealed that only fat was now present. His chances of survival still low, several people counseled us to let him go.
However, Benny wasn't giving up and neither were we! As word spread through the TMR Rescue world, everyone was praying for Benny. We stayed with him every day to encourage him and stimulate him. When his blood count fell, we brought in our donkey, Magic, for a blood transfusion and prayed for success. We were ecstatic that the blood transfusion helped Benny to finally turn the corner. Finally, it seemed he was on track to beat the odds!
Benny’s health continued to improve; he even regained his eyesight which was a miracle. His survival gave us confidence that this sweet, loving baby was truly going to make it, unfortunately his fight was far from over.
We noticed he had become lethargic and was refusing to go outside. His temperature was normal, and we did not notice anything obvious initially. When we looked at his ears though we noticed a rough edge. Our hearts sank as we noticed the blood beneath the edge of the hair on his ear. We were concerned the tip of his ear was getting ready to sluff off, so we called Dr. Michelle Coleman, who saved his life at TAMU and asked her advice. When we told her the symptoms, she asked if we could get him in right away.
Benny was lucky to have survived his malnutrition, but he was still suffering the effects. Ischemic dermatopathy is a progressive auto-immune disease that is more commonly found in dogs, not equines. This new challenge stemmed from his malnutrition. When Benny's PC count reached 6 his body was in the process of shutting down and it became a race against time to save him.
his body was in survival mode, which signals it to only supply blood to those organs that are necessary to live, diverting it to the heart, lungs, brain etc. Things like legs, hooves, ears, tails, and skin are not necessary to live in the immediate moment and were being sacrificed because his brain was malfunctioning. For Benny, even though his bone marrow is rejuvenating, and his nutritional level is excellent, the survival switch did not get turned off. The ears and skin around Benny's fetlocks were sluffing off and the skin was becoming necrotic. By midafternoon he had more lesions. The disease was progressing rapidly and the medical experts worked tirelessly to help Benny through this difficult hurdle.
Luckily with the sharp eyes of our team at TMR Rescue and the medical staff they were able to jumpstart the circulation to his extremities and get him back on the path to becoming healthy.
A few months later and Benny was as good as new, having passed all the tests for his immune system and general health exam.
Since then Benny has been an integral part of the TMR Rescue Family, and often makes special trips to hospitals and other facilities as a support donkey, helping to bring smiles to those that are less fortunate.
There were many individuals involved in the rescue and rehabilitation of Benny. We would like to personally recognize Marjorie for her critical role in the rescue and care of Benny.