DoveLewis is home to one of the largest volunteer-based blood banks in the Pacific Northwest. In addition to saving lives here at DoveLewis, our blood products supply area veterinarians. DoveLewis’ Blood Bank program provides enough blood every year for more than 500 transfusions for dogs and cat. There are over 125 active volunteer canine and feline donors in our program. All of our blood donor cats live in the homes of DoveLewis staff members or local veterinary professionals. We only use feline blood donors owned by veterinary professionals, because they recognize and understand that, although rare, there are potential risks of sedating animals on a regular basis and the necessity to prevent their cat’s enjoyment of the outdoors in an effort to prevent disease, virus, infection, etc. We call our blood 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
- Receives heartworm preventative each month
- Weighs at least 55 pounds
- Has never had a transfusion
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. 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”.
Ladan Mohammad-Zadeh, DVM, DACVECC
Jill Greene, CVT
Blood Bank Director