Frank's blood saves lives

This month we had a special visit from Frank who was able to help out when we called upon him. Unfortunately we had an emergency patient who required a blood transfusion. Frank came to our mind as he is a gold star patient when it comes to blood withdrawals, is clinically healthy and has a very calm temperament and loving nature.

Blood transfusions have many uses and can be critical, life-saving procedures. Blood loss through injury e.g. road traffic accidents or other causes of bleeding, such as rodenticide and snake bite poisoning can lead to death or make any anaesthesia to treat underlying damage very risky. In these circumstances, fresh whole blood can make all the difference! Sometimes, an animal’s immune system can attack its own red blood cells (immune-mediated haemolytic anaemia), and blood transfusions are necessary to prevent fatal anaemia whilst medical treatment is working.

As well as fresh blood, in some circumstances, whole blood can be stored for anticipated usage or even divided into component parts and stored e.g. fresh frozen plasma. In the latter case, one donation can help two or three patients!

An ideal blood donor is a friendly, healthy, clinically normal animal that is not pregnant or has not produced a litter if she is not speyed. Donors should be vaccinated (although not within 10-14 days before donation) and free of infections and parasites, especially blood borne disease.

Blood can be collected in non sedated dogs if they are cooperative, which is often the case for those of an easy-going temperament. Collections can also be made from the sedated or anaesthetised animal if necessary. Blood is usually taken into standard human blood bags or syringes that contain anti-coagulant. A large accessible vein is needed - this is typically the jugular or sometimes, the cephalic vein on the front of the foreleg. The area is usually clipped and aseptically prepared before insertion of the needle.

We greatly thank Frank and his owners who were able to assist on this occasion. If you would like to chat to us about whether your pet is a suitable candidate for blood donations, feel free to contact us at the clinic on 9489 2195.

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