Bird-to-bird blood transfusion saved sea eagle’s life

On January 11, an ill sea eagle was brought to the animal clinic of the Estonian University of Life Sciences where for the first time in Estonia avian blood transfusion was performed.

The bird was rescued in Kuusalu parish in North Estonia and brought to our animal clinic where our doctoral student Madis Leivits examined it concluding that the bird was apathetic, lacked coordination and was holding its head in an odd position. Also worth noting is that the bird weighed very little. Blood analysis showed the bird to be in very poor condition, which would normally have meant that the bird would be euthanized, but instead, a blood transfusion from another sea eagle was performed. „The procedure improved the bird’s condition noticeably and was an important stimulus for surviving the critical period“, Madis Leivits commented, saying that currently the bird’s status is stable, but it will take long time for the bird to fully recover.

Blood transfusions between organisms aren’t a rarity as they are used on a daily basis in human and animal medicine, but it is the first time in Estonia for it to be done on birds.