Baby Mirbella had a shin fracture and anemia, not a good combination when you're a llama.

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — When Mirbella fell on the farm, her doctor knew her leg didn't look good.

She had a broken tibia, a shin bone, and the break required a specialist to fix it.

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That's how Mirbella the llama ended up waiting for surgery Tuesday at the University of Tennessee's veterinary hospital. Her mom, Keri, came with her from Ohio, not only for moral support but to donate blood.

6-month-old Mirbella, a youngster in the llama world, needed a transfusion before her surgery because she was anemic, a somewhat common problem in llamas. Llamas are domesticated pack animals that are part of the camel family, but this mammal traditionally is found in South America's Andes mountains and is valued for its fur that can be spun into yarn.

"Children just never stop taking from their parents," Dr. David Anderson, who operated on the Mirbella, said with a smile. "But that's what we do as parents."

Anderson said the university's veterinary hospital handles several dozen blood transfusions every year. For every one, staff needs to find a suitable donor of the proper species with a compatible blood type.

"Blood transfusion has been around for a long time, and we've been doing it in animals for a long time, but (people) don't always think about it because we don't have a Red Cross bank for blood," he said.

Mom Keri donated a bag of blood before her baby's surgery. During surgery, UT doctors added plates and screws to Mirbella's tibia to strengthen it and hold it in place before stitching up the leg.

Mirbella now will rest for a couple of weeks before returning home to Ohio.

Anderson said he is pleased with the results and credits Mirbella's mom for her help.

Mirbella had "a completely successful transfusion with no adverse reactions," Anderson said. "There's no doubt that's going to help (her) get up on her feet quicker and on the road to recovery."

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