Veterinary IV pioneer Bernard McSherry, 94

A memorial celebration will be held Aug. 7 for renowned veterinary pathologist and Guelph professor Bernard McSherry, who developed electrolyte solutions for calves that led to today’s use of intravenous fluids to treat sick livestock.

McSherry died Thursday at a Guelph hospice at age 94, the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College reported Tuesday.

Born in Winnipeg and raised in Toronto, McSherry studied at OVC before enlisting in Canada’s armed forces during the Second World War, fighting in the Allied landing at Normandy on D-Day in 1944. He returned to OVC in 1948 and worked his entire career there.

Early in his career at the college, McSherry developed an intravenous solution to treat chemical imbalances in young livestock suffering from dehydration due to post-natal diarrhea.

The use of balanced electrolytes in animal and human patients would be known at various schools in North America for years afterward as "McSherry’s Solution," OVC said.

McSherry worked on chemical abnormalities in animals, including acid-base and chemical imbalances in such elements as potassium and sodium through severe fluid loss caused by diarrhea in cattle. Such problems at that time hadn’t been well studied in animals, the university said.

"When you get sick, often your acid-base and electrolyte balance gets out of kilter," he told a university magazine in 2005. "It can be life-threatening."

McSherry also studied hematology, especially blood cell production, researching the serum protein fibrinogen and using serum electrophoresis as a routine analytical tool. He would co-write papers on blood cell kinetics, lead toxicity, lymphatic cancer, coagulation and the cattle metabolic ailment bovine ketosis.

Guelph’s OVC became a centre of veterinary clinical pathology during McSherry’s tenure. He started Guelph’s research and teaching program in pathology, the study of animal diseases, working at first with one lone technician, the university said.

McSherry, who retired from OVC in 1986, earned a lifetime achievement award from the American Society for Veterinary Clinical Pathologists in 2005 and an honorary membership in the American College of Veterinary Pathology in 1976.

An open house for family and friends to celebrate McSherry’s life is to be held at his son Jonathan’s farm on Aug. 7 from 7 to 9 p.m. Memorial donations can be made to Guelph’s Hospice Wellington.

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