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Face of Defense: ‘Man’s Best Friend’ Inspires Blood Drive

By Mike Peacock
Armed Services Blood Bank Center - Europe

LANDSTUHL, Germany , April 20, 2012 – Holly-Eva, a five-year-old boxer and her bad knees motivated more than 100 people to donate blood at a drive held last month at Wiesbaden Army Airfield, Germany.

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Army 1st Sgt. Clark Kuhling stands with Holly-Eva, a five-year-old boxer whose battle through two knee surgeries and an infection inspired Kuhling to hold a blood drive in her honor. The blood drive was the largest blood drive for the Wiesbaden Army Airfield, Germany, in more than five years with a total of 109 units of whole blood collected. Photo courtesy of Army 1st Sgt. Clark Kuhling

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The drive collected 109 units of whole blood for the Armed Services Blood Program, making it the largest held in Wiesbaden in more than five years, said Air Force Maj. Madelaine Sumera, chief of the Armed Services Blood Bank Center – Europe which is based here.

“I had made the decision … that one way or the other -- if Holly lived or died -- I would try to put on a blood drive in her honor,” said Holly-Eva’s best friend, Army 1st Sgt. Clark Kuhling, of Company B, 24th Military Intelligence Battalion.

In the summer of 2010, Holly-Eva blew out the anterior cruciate ligament in two of her knees. The first surgery for knee implants went perfectly, said Kuhling. A couple of months later she underwent the second.

One of her knees healed, but Holly-Eva experienced many problems with the other. Medications failed to fight infection and a decision was made to remove the implant in the bad knee.

Before the surgery, Holly-Eva’s body started to attack itself, said Kuhling, who has had the boxer since she was a puppy.  Then, her liver started to fail. A blood transfusion was performed but her condition only worsened. The vet told Kuhling the only hope was a transfusion of concentrated human plasma.

Kuhling set out to see if he could find this within the U.S. military and was directed to the blood bank at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center here.

“They really wanted to help, but because Holly-Eva was not a working dog, they were not able to, due to regulations,” Kuhling said. “As this was happening, I had a dozen or so friends and coworkers state that they would give blood right then and there, if needed.”

Then, Kuhling was told by the vet Holly-Eva was responding to the transfusion of canine blood, meaning the human plasma would not be needed. The boxer recovered and is in great health now, Kuhling said.

After returning from a deployment to Afghanistan in January, Kuhling enlisted help from throughout the Wiesbaden military community to advertise and promote the historic blood drive, attended by his pal Holly-Eva, complete with photos of the boxer for every blood donor.


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Related Sites:
Armed Services Blood Program

Click photo for screen-resolution imageHolly-Eva takes it easy and keeps warm with her "Be A Hero, Save A Life" sweater on. The five-year-old boxer was the inspiration for one of the largest blood drives at Wiesbaden Army Airfield, Germany. Photo courtesy of Army 1st Sgt. Clark Kuhling  
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