Ladan Mohammad-Zadeh, DVM, DACVECC
Jill Greene, CVT
Blood Bank Director
DoveLewis is home to one of the largest volunteer-based blood banks in the country. In addition to saving lives here at DoveLewis, our blood products supply area veterinarians (see blood products and services). DoveLewis’ Blood Bank program provides enough blood every year for more than 600 transfusions for dogs and cat. There are 110 active volunteer donors in our program. All of our blood donor cats were rescued and live in our hospital. When it’s time for them to retire, we find them new forever homes. We call our canine donors Superheroes and we are always looking for more lifesaving dogs to join our program.
Ideal canine candidate is:
Between the ages of 1 and 6
Current on vaccines
Weighs at least 55 pounds
Has never had a transfusion or been pregnant
How it works
At the first appointment, we run lab work on the potential Superhero. All donors need to be on a regular heartworm preventive which will be provided free of charge. Once the candidate is cleared and ready to donate, the first appointment is scheduled. The entire donation process takes about 30 minutes. We ask that the Superhero commit to visiting DoveLewis 4 - 6 times a year for at least 3 years. Each Superhero will get a bandana to proudly wear showing that he or she is what we call all of our blood donors: a “Superhero.” Each time the Superhero comes back to give blood, he or she gets a brand new toy.
Revolutions in Canine Blood Typing
To say that transfusion medicine has assumed an increasingly important role in the life support of critically ill patients is an understatement. The knowledge that veterinary professionals have obtained on companion animal transfusion therapy has drastically intensified since the first blood typing experiments were done on canines back in the 1960s. Today, the veterinary community has not only recognized the many different blood groups for canines, but our understanding of what exactly happens to an animal when a transfusion is administered has revolutionized how we can be certain we are providing the right therapy for our patients.
There are over a dozen blood group systems that have been recognized in dogs; however, only six are clinically significant. These are referred to as dog erythrocyte antigens, with the abbreviation DEA followed by a number. So far, the recognized blood types in dogs are DEA 1:1, 1:2, 3, 4, 5, and 7.
When you blood type a canine with an in–house kit, you are determining whether the dog is testing positive for DEA 1:1 (giving it a positive blood type) or negative for DEA 1:1 (giving it a negative blood type). Furthermore, complete blood typing (which can only be performed at a specialized lab) can show if that animal is also positive or negative for the remaining antigens 3–7. The only recognized “universal” type is the dog that is negative for all of the antigens except DEA 4; laying to rest the claim that all negative dogs could be “universal donors”.