When Laurie Bice and her 13-year-old daughter, Taylor, brought Anna Belle to the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine on Aug. 9, the piglet was dying.
Anna Belle, an 8-week-old, 3-pound micromini potbellied pig, was weak, lethargic, cold, bruised and anemic.
Four days before, Anna Belle dug into some rat poison inside a cabinet in the Bice home.
The family had just moved into the house in July, Laurie Bice said, and was unaware of the poison.
When Anna Belle got into the rat poison, she ingested warfarin — the main ingredient that causes internal bleeding in rodents — making the pig extremely sick, said Dr. Marjorie Gill, a farm animal health professor at LSU.
When the veterinarians started to examine Anna Belle, they realized she was losing blood because her red blood count was so low. Anna Belle needed a blood transfusion to survive, Gill said.
Because of Anna Belle’s tiny size, a blood transfusion was tricky, Gill said.
It was difficult for Dr. Gary Sod, the veterinarian in charge of the case, to get a catheter in Anna Belle because of her size.
Sod used an intraosseous catheter which goes directly into the bone marrow, Gill said. Most blood transfusions go through a vein.
Sod contacted LSU Swine Unit researcher Rebecca Lirette about blood for Anna Belle, Gill said.
Lirette then had about 60 cc of blood taken from a big sow for the transfusion, which took two to three hours to complete.
Gill said it was the first pig blood transfusion performed at LSU.
Later that day after the transfusion, Anna Belle was as perky as it was before it got sick, Gill said.
“She drank a lot of goat milk out of a bowl,” Gill said.
Taylor Bice said she knows the LSU veterinarians saved her pig’s life.
“They saved her. I was so freaked out when we brought her there. She (Anna Belle) wouldn’t wake up. I was so scared,” Taylor Bice said.
Laurie Bice said the entire ordeal was very traumatic for Taylor.
Anna Belle went home Friday.
“Anna Belle is Taylor’s baby,” Laurie Bice said.
Taylor Bice said Monday that Anna Belle acted like its young self over the weekend.
“She likes to run and play tag. She will come and bite your foot and run away. She’s always running around,” Taylor Bice said.
Anna Belle, whitish-pink with black spots, will be Taylor’s only pig, she said.
“I don’t want to get another pig. I just want Anna Belle.”