January 04, 2021
"Most owners don’t think about a dog needing a transfusion until they find themselves in the situation where their own pet needs one."
Bobo, a lively 9 yr old Pekingese, suddenly began exhibiting seizure-like activity in May of 2020. She was taken to her regular vet for a workup, and radiographs showed a splenic mass. After the splenectomy, Bobo’s recovery included continued workup for the seizure-like activity. But, a few months later, Bobo developed autoimmune hemolytic anemia and needed an emergency blood transfusion.
Most owners are unaware of how strained the animal blood banks are across the country, only having half a dozen or so commercial blood banks. Some hospitals do in-house emergency donors because they are unable to stock blood or wait for it to be shipped when an emergency arises. Some of the larger hospitals stock blood that is distributed from larger commercial blood banks like BRVBB.
Canine blood types are often simplified by determining if they are DEA 1.1 positive or negative. Only about 30% of dogs are negative. We typed Bobo and she was DEA 1.1 positive. Her primary veterinarian determined she needed packed red blood cells specifically. The blood bank was able to move some orders around to accommodate for this last minute emergency call with the cooperation of some great professionals. The owner was able to come pick up her blood from our facility in Purcellville.
So who donated the blood that went to Bobo?!
Because donor owners love when we have a story about where their dog's blood went! It was donated by a sweet Husky named Diesel who lives local to our area. He has been in the program for 6 years. Diesel is actually a patient at the regular vet that Bobo visits for her care! What a small world! Diesel's plasma also went to a university teaching hospital for one of their patients.
From Bobo's owner:
“It was a huge relief knowing there was product available and just a short drive away. I remember in the ‘old days’ a clinic I worked for in the '90s out West had a resident Greyhound for emergency transfusions, and if several dogs needed transfusions, staff would bring in their own healthy dogs to act as donors. Typing was unavailable,” Bobo’s owner said.
"Another clinic I worked at, when Ehrlichiosis was just starting to be recognized as a cause of IMHA, we just hoped a dog didn't need a 2nd transfusion before responding to treatment, because the risk without typing was not only scary, but impossible to know. And when we moved back to the East Coast over 15 years ago, and one of our large breeds had an emergency that might require blood, we would bring a relative along just in case.
Fast forward to today, and it is a HUGE relief knowing that there is a local, screened source of blood from healthy, typed donors—if a second transfusion is needed, it can be done safely. I’m very grateful to Diesel and his owner for giving Bobo such a huge gift! And to the BRVBB! Owners who are interested in making a difference in the lives of other dogs should know what a tremendous impact they can have on not just one but a number of dogs.”