This disease ravaged his body, killed him in 3 days, and cost us $10,000 (it was worth the fight, but just to be transparent about what it cost to fight this disease). Perhaps I could have been better prepared if I was more aware of the early symptoms, and had that extra 12-20 hours – that is how fast it can strike. We’re talking a matter of hours making a difference. IMHA / AIHA is a deadly and costly disease, half of all animals will likely pass from it if they’re struck by it, the causes are often unknown, and you have a better chance of saving your pet if you know about the early symptoms.
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When Meisha was diagnosed with immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA) in 1992 at the age of 3, her owner Joanne Dickson, of St. Cloud, Minnesota, had never heard of the disease. More than two decades later, Joanne is an expert on IMHA, having put massive efforts into raising awareness and research funds.
IMHA is a devastating disease in which the dog’s immune system attacks its own red blood cells. Some dogs die within days of being diagnosed and most don’t live more than a couple of years. Meisha beat the odds and lived nearly 10 years after her IMHA diagnosis.
In Meisha’s honor, Joanne created the Meisha’s Hope Fund, which helps Morris Animal Foundation fund scientific research into IMHA. The Foundation has funded 17 studies into IMHA, totaling nearly $900,000.
Joanne firmly believes that all dog lovers should know about IMHA, but that isn’t the case. Every day, she hears from dog owners around the world, via her website, and most had never heard of IMHA before their dog was diagnosed with it.
“IMHA research is so important because it will lead to better treatment options for the disease, which will lead to more dogs surviving it,” she says. “I am thrilled to be a part of the Morris Animal Foundation family via the Meisha’s Hope Fund and am thankful for the research accomplishments that have happened as a result of studies that have been sponsored by the Meisha’s Hope Fund.”
Learn more about IMHA during our webinar on Tuesday, February 11, from 11:00–11:45 a.m. (MST). Kelly J. Diehl, DVM, MS, DACVIM, Morris Animal Foundation researcher and writer, will present “The Body Against Itself: Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia.”
Dr. Diehl will discuss how to recognize the signs of IMHA and tell participants more about Morris Animal Foundation’s research to help dogs survive this dreaded disease.