Anemia is a common clinical pathological finding in stranded loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) secondary to trauma and chronic debilitation. These animals may benefit from species-specific blood product administration, yet few studies have evaluated the effects of anticoagulants on loggerhead sea turtle blood storage. Sea turtles in managed collections may serve as healthy blood donors, allowing for short-term blood storage with transfer of blood products within 24 h to rehabilitation facilities. The objective of this study was to compare the packed cell volume (PCV), total solids (TS), electrolytes, glucose, and venous blood gas analytes over a 24 h storage of loggerhead sea turtle whole blood in three anticoagulants: sodium heparin, sodium citrate, and citrate-phosphate-dextrose-adenine (CPDA-1). Blood from eight loggerhead sea turtles at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center (Surf City, NC) was used following routine venipuncture for health assessment. Whole blood was placed into vacutainer tubes containing sodium heparin, sodium citrate, or CPDA-1 and stored at 4–8°C (39–46°F). PCV and TS were evaluated at 0, 3, 6, 12, and 24 h. Blood gas, electrolyte, and glucose analyses using i-STAT CG8 cartridges were performed at 0 and 24 h. There were no significant differences in PCV and TS over time. At 24 hours, pink plasma was observed in 62.5% (5/8) of CPDA-1 and 12.5% (1/8) of citrate specimens. CPDA-1 and citrate specimens had a significant increase in potassium at 24 h. Both heparin and citrate specimens had a significant decrease in pH and increase in partial pressure of carbon dioxide at 24 h. Sodium values decreased over time in citrate and CPDA-1 specimens. Loggerhead sea turtle blood stored in CPDA-1, and sodium citrate had more significant blood gas and electrolyte changes over 24 h, indicating a greater degree of erythrocyte leakage or lysis. For the purposes of collection and short-term storage of loggerhead sea turtle blood, sodium heparin is preferable.
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