Blood transfusions are not just for humans!
Today, Stumpy the Labrador has become a canine champion after topping the list of dog blood donors. He has helped to save the lives of up to 120 others dogs as a result of his blood donations. And after making his 30th, he has become Pet Blood Bank UK’s highest donating dog.
Pet Blood Bank UK
Pet Blood Bank UK is a charity that offers a canine blood bank. Launched in 2007, it is the only charity of its kind in the country. Run as a voluntary scheme just like the human blood bank service, dogs from all over the country give blood at one of our many sessions. The blood is then processed and delivered to veterinary practices when they need it most usually as a result of trauma, disease or during surgery. Each unit of donated blood can help to save the lives of up to four other dogs. Pet Blood Bank UK supports the advancement of veterinary transfusion medicine. The staff are passionate about sharing their knowledge in order to increase awareness and understanding of the role blood products can play in helping to save lives.
Fern and Luke’s Yorkshire Terrier Toby is one dog who discovered the importance of blood being readily available for dogs after he swallowed part of a rubber toy which left him fighting for his life.
The toy was just the start of Toby’s battle, though, as three days after having it removed, the walls of his intestines burst causing faecal matter to leak all over his organs. Toby needed another major operation and a plasma transfusion to treat the condition. His chances of survival were extremely low, but he’s a fighter and pulled through to make a full recovery.
Toby owner Fern said “we are extremely grateful for the service offered by Pet Blood Bank, Our family wouldn’t be complete without their help and we couldn’t be more grateful. Without owners bringing their dogs to a Pet Blood Bank session, there are many dogs out there like Toby who would not be with us today.
Pet Blood Bank UK runs donation sessions across the country in vet practices. In order to become a donor, dogs need to be between one and eight years old; weigh over 25kg; be fit and healthy; have a good temperament; have never travelled abroad; be fully vaccinated; and not be taking any medication.
Similar to the human blood service, dog owners kindly register their much loved canine companions to give blood at one of the many sessions across the country.
After each session, the blood is taken to the processing centre in Loughborough where it is separated into red blood cells and plasma products, and then stored ready for dispatch.
The Pet Blood Bank UK runs an average of five sessions a week at veterinary practices and kennels, with over 9,000 lifesaving donors registered with the charity. Last year, we sent out over 5,000 units of blood and as transfusion medicine advances, the demand continues to grow.
What happens at the Blood Bank?
We take approximately 450ml of blood during a donation from your dog. The blood is taken from the jugular vein in your dog’s neck and goes into a special blood collection bag containing anti-coagulants to stop the blood from clotting. The collection set has four bags attached to the tubing, one bag is used to collect the blood and the others are used during processing.
After each donation session, the units of blood collected are transported to the processing centre. The blood is transported in a protective box which allows it to cool down gradually to around 20°C. This is the optimum temperature for the processing stage.
When the blood arrives at our processing centre, our lab team inspect each unit of blood and log the unique reference number which relates to your dog’s donor number. This means every unit of blood can be traced back to each donor.
The tubing and needle are removed in sterile conditions and the unit of blood is weighed and placed in the centrifuge. It is then spun at 3,800 revolutions per minute, for fifteen minutes to allow the red blood cells to separate from the plasma.
When the unit is removed from the centrifuge, our lab team carefully transfer the plasma into one of the other collection bags and the red cell nutrient is added to the red cells in the other bag to extend their shelf life to six weeks. Both are labelled with the unique reference numbers.
The plasma is firstly placed in a freezer at -80°C and once frozen, it is transferred into the -34°C freezer with a shelf life of up to five years.
The red blood cells are placed in a special refrigerator and stored at 4°C for up to six weeks.
Dispatch and Use
The units of plasma and red blood cells are stored at Pet Blood Bank UK until they are needed by a vet for a patient.
When required, the unit of plasma or red blood cells is packed carefully in temperature controlled boxes to ensure the temperature is maintained until the blood reaches the vet. When it arrives, it is carefully warmed to body temperature before being transfused to a sick or injured dog.
Just as with humans, sick and injured dogs often need a blood transfusion to recover. You generous donation could save someone else’s beloved pet and could be there for you too should your pet need it in the future.
For more information, and to register your dog to become a blood donor please visit: www.petbloodbankuk.org