The Transfusion Medicine Service strives to meet the rising demand for blood products for dogs, cats, horses, cows, llamas, sheep, goats, pigs and other animals. More than 600 transfusions per year take place at the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. Laboratory personnel test blood and cross-match it for patients to assure the safest transfusions possible for each animal. Staff members also process and store umbilical cord blood for future use and process adult stem cells from equine patients.
The laboratory suite is equipped with a state-of-the-art centrifuge and refrigeration units for blood storage.
Faculty and staff have developed a rapid blood-typing technique for horses--available only through the teaching hospital.
Veterinary students who spend time with the service learn the scope of veterinary blood banking and how they may use blood products in their future practices.
Community Donor Program for Dogs
The service began screening donor dogs in February 2008 for enrollment into a community-based donation program. The hospital's blood bank collects, processes and stores canine blood needed for transfusions to treat a variety of conditions in dogs. Applications range from surgical complications to kidney failure.
In order to be blood donors, dogs must be 1 to 8 years old; weigh at least 55 pounds; be current on their flea, tick and heartworm preventive medications; and have never had puppies or been pregnant.
At the blood bank
Blood donation for dogs is considered minimally invasive. During the animal's first visit to the blood bank, which lasts about an hour, candidate dogs receive health examinations and have their blood typed. (Dogs have 13 different blood types; the preferred donor type is dog erythrocyte antigen 1.1 negative.) If animals have the universal blood-donor type, they are then screened for infectious diseases. If cleared for further donation, the animal can return in one to two months for a half-hour donation visit. Results from the screening remain on file at the hospital and can be made available at any time to the dog's regular veterinarian. If any health problems are detected, the owner will be advised to follow up with the dog's regular veterinarian.
The initial health check, which includes veterinary services valued at $300, is free, as are donation visits. All dogs, no matter their blood type, leave with a "goodie bag" of treats in appreciation for their service. Donor dogs receive access to blood products should they need them. In addition to the obvious benefits to sick and injured pets, the program also provides an opportunity for dog owners to become involved in the veterinary community.
Pet owners interested in having their dogs screened for donation may obtain more information or set up an appointment by calling the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at (530) 752-1393 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by e-mailing email@example.com.
The blood bank offers appointments on weekdays and selected Saturdays.