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Canine Blood Donation
Saving lives one donation at a time: The tale of two Heroes
It is 8:30 PM on Saturday; a client rushes their dog to Fresno Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center. Their dog is quickly taken to the treatment area and is assessed by the emergency veterinarian. After initial examination, bloodwork is performed and shows that an emergency blood transfusion is needed. The staff immediately contacts the owners of our live blood donors. Shoka and Jackson arrive within 30 minutes, prepared to donate. Their blood is typed and crossmatched, then are sedated for donation. In the end, both dogs saved another life. Max went home a week later wagging his tail.Shoka and Jackson are American Pittbull Terrier brothers’ that were rescued years ago by two veterinary technician students. Both former students now work at Fresno Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center. Although, Shoka and Jackson are new tothe blood donation program, they have saved more than 5 lives.
Like humans, dogs have unique blood types and are able to donate to other dogs in need. There are two blood types: A and B; however, there is a more complex system hidden within each blood type. The surface of each red blood cell contains proteins called antigens. Each antigen has a specific site where binds to the blood cells. Dogs who posses antigens on certain sites may not be compatible to donate, and will not be considered a universal donor. Currently, there are six characterized types, however one site is considered most important. Dogs that are DEA 1.1 negative (no antigen in the site) are considered universal donors. DEA 1.1 negative dogs can donate to DEA 1.1 negative and DEA 1.1 positive dogs; dogs who are DEA 1.1 positive can only donate to another positive dog.
Donor dogs must be kept in the pinnacle of health. Twice a year check-ups, regular vaccination schedule, and yearly blood work are performed. The dogs must also possess an excellent temperament. The requirement for this is not due to temperament being passes from donor to patient via transfusion; it is because of the donation procedure itself. Minimal sedation is given to the donor, as sedation can cause a drop in blood pressure and can harm the donor. This is why we love using Pittbulls for our donor dogs! They are healthy, strong, and well mannered. It’s almost like they know their job is to save a life!
Donor dogs give up to 500 mLs of blood per donation. The amount they donate is based on the need of the patient. They can donate once every 1-2 months; however our donor dogs are allowed to donate every 3 months. After the donation, Shoka and Jackson get deserved TLC for our staff (which they never seem to complain about).
We love our Pittbull donor dogs for their courage, strength, and loyalty to our hospital. They have saved lives and entered the hearts of staff, clients, and patients alike.