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DBweekly NATALIE THE COW REMEMBERED FOR SERVICE, CHARACTER By Jane Pruhs, University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine Her pen is now empty. The tall grass just outside the fenced pasture she loved remains untouched. Her low is no longer heard at morning and evening feedings. But the lasting impact of Natalie, a 16-year-old Holstein cow who served as a resident donor and teaching animal at UW Veterinary Care (UWVC), lives on in the animals and students she helped. For 13 years, Natalie served as a source of whole blood, plasma, and rumen fluid donations and as teaching animal for UW School of Veterinary Medicine students. She came to UWVC from the family farm of Steve Mell, large animal instructional program manager, after a uterine artery issue brought her reproduction days to an end. Because there are no commercial blood plasma or whole blood sources for cows, UWVC maintains its own bank, so Natalie spent much of her life on a team of animals providing donations for ill patients. She has given more than 400 liters of blood throughout her career. Natalie also served as a source of healthy rumen fluid. The nearly 1,000 gallons she provided through the years helped boost or rebuild healthy gastrointestinal microflora in ailing ruminant digestive tracts through transfaunation, the act of moving rumen fluid from one animal’s rumen to another. “Many hundreds of patients benefitted from her plasma, whole blood, 4 Read this story online University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine Natalie affectionately licks fellow UW Veterinary Care donor, Maxine. Natalie and Maxine shared a close relationship as the hospital’s two resident bovine donors. (Photo by Nik Hawkins)
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