New clinical tool helps vets save lives

Photo: Christina Weese.

Photo: Christina Weese.

A $20,000 gift from Dr. David Stark — a Saskatoon-based dental specialist in endodontics — has allowed the Western College of Veterinary Medicine’s Veterinary Medical Centre (VMC) to purchase a clinical tool that provides critical data about blood coagulation.

It’s vital information that can mean life or death for an animal, says Dr. Casey Gaunt, an assistant professor in the veterinary college’s Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences.

“The rotational thromboelastometry machine helps us to better understand why a patient is bleeding so we can tailor our treatment accordingly. It also helps us identify patients with the opposite problem, the ones likely to form blood clots who need treatment to prevent them from clotting.”

The VMC now owns Saskatchewan’s only rotational thromboelastometry machine. Before its purchase, clinicians had to send the time-sensitive blood samples to an outside lab or rely on several different tests that provided an incomplete picture and required them to make a best guess when determining treatment.

Besides its clinical use, the new equipment allows researchers like Gaunt to perform research relating to coagulation in different types of diseases. For example, the small internal medicine specialist is helping to develop a study that will evaluate the coagulation of certain exotic animal species. Gaunt is also hoping to begin another project that will determine if coagulation changes occur during certain important diseases found in production animal species.

That’s all gratifying news for Stark who believes strongly in giving back to his community and was looking for a way to repay the WCVM for the great treatment his dogs have received at the college’s medical centre.

“Over the years I’ve had five standard poodles and three of them have been treated at the WCVM for both small and large conditions,” Stark explains. “It’s been a great benefit to have this facility nearby for the care of my critters.”

Stark, who plans to continue his support of the WCVM, has also established a $2,500 annual scholarship. The Dr. David Stark Mature Student Award was presented for the first time at the 2012 WCVM Fall Awards Program.

A firm believer that individuals have to step forward and do whatever they can to support their communities, Stark is president of the Saskatoon and District Dental Society. He is also vice-president of the Saskatoon Road Runners Association, is an active supporter of the Meewasin Valley Authority and participates in the St. John’s Ambulance therapy dog program.

He recognizes the important role that both large and small donors can play in supporting institutions such as the veterinary college so they can continue to excel and be recognized as world class facilities.

“The governments can’t pay for everything, so individuals have to step forward and contribute whatever they can,” says Stark.

“The advances available in medical diagnosis are incredible, but a lot of these diagnostic tests require expensive equipment. We’re really lucky to have the veterinary school in Saskatoon, and I’m fortunate enough to be in a position where I can contribute to them.”

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