Blood transfusions can provide life-saving treatment to severely anemic animals. Due to limited availability and the difficulty of storing whole blood and blood products, such as fresh frozen plasma and packed red blood cells, exotic animals often receive fresh whole blood transfusions. Little is known about elasmobranch blood types and transfusions. Conspecific cross-matches within several different elasmobranch species were negative, indicating that in an emergency situation a single whole blood transfusion may be possible without causing a transfusion reaction. Experimental transfusions between healthy conspecific Atlantic rays (Dasyatis sabina) showed no adverse reactions and autotransfusions in marbled electric rays (Torpedo marmorata) were successful. There are no published reports of blood transfusions performed on clinically abnormal elasmobranchs. The following case series documents blood transfusions performed on seven cownose rays (Rhinoptera bonasus) and one short-tail stingray (Dasyatis brevicaudata). All rays were treated with the same protocol, which included pretreatment with steroids and antibiotics followed by an intravenous transfusion of freshly collected, heparinized, whole blood. Three animals survived and currently exhibit no abnormal clinical signs. Two animals died 55 days and 100 days post transfusion. Three animals died 2–22 days post transfusion. Although complications from blood transfusions could not be ruled out, all five animals that died had other health problems that likely contributed to their demise. All eight animals would almost certainly have died without a blood transfusion as they were severely anemic and moribund at the time of presentation. The methods described in this paper may be useful in the treatment of severely anemic elasmobranchs and this is the first report of blood transfusions in clinically abnormal elasmobranchs.
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