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Universal Equine Blood Donor

When a life is on the line with a grim medical condition, when the prognosis is poor and surgical intervention is the sole alternative, when a blood transfusion is required to save the patient Beevo gets the call here.

Oklahoma State University's Beevo the wonder horse, that is, not the infamous and frequently maligned University of Texas bullish mascot Bevo.

At the OSU Veterinary Medicine College and Hospital, the 4 year old horse with that extra "e" in his name and with a rare blood type has ascended to near legendary status a tall and hefty blood brother, of sorts, to many ill and ailing equines in Oklahoma.

If the university owned animal was a human being, framed American Red Cross accolades and honors for his numerous blood donations would adorn his stable walls.

The popular four legged critter a well known workhorse because he weighs a whopping 1,900 pounds is the only known horse available to OSU with a universal blood type that is compatible for all kinds of horses and all types of equine operations and procedures requiring transfusions. Most quarter horses and thoroughbreds average about 1,200 pounds.

Beevo the Blood Horse, as he is fondly known, donates blood at least once a month.

Veterinarians note that only about 5 percent of all horses are universal donors because they have blood types containing the A , C+, Q and U+ antibodies.

"Beevo is so highly thought of. To us, he's a true lifesaver, and greatly appreciated," said Carl Gedon, manager of OSU's equine medical research center north of the main Stillwater campus.

When needed for medical emergencies and other equine surgical procedures requiring blood replacement, veterinary assistants load Beevo up and transport the horse a few miles south to the OSU Veterinary Hospital on campus.

The horse has donated blood up to nearly three quarts a pop when necessary for a single complicated surgery scores of times during the past several years.

By most appearances, the animal bravely donates with few apparent objections, grimaces, concerns or restrictions. Veterinarians slightly sedate him and blood is drawn carefully from the animal's jugular vein.

"Beevo's not crazy about the needle, but once it's in, he just stands there until it's all over," Gedon said about the animal to animal transfusions.

More than 15 different blood types can be found among horses, far more than humans possess, Gedon said.

OSU veterinarians also harvest plasma from the horse. Plasma is a blood component often used in emergency transfusions.

Gedon said Beevo's blood is most frequently used for horses that have experienced a traumatic accident, that have a particular disease, or that require surgery for a tumor or other serious medical malady.

"He certainly is a valuable animal to the horses who need him. And we certainly need him all of the time," Gedon said.

Beevo, roughly the size of a Clydesdale, is fed a special diet of grass hay, alfalfa and assorted grains loaded with plenty of protein.

He lives in pens at the university's rodeo arena. He exercises daily and is available for other equine research projects.

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