Pet Blood Bank UK
The Beastly Beasts have been donating with PPBuk since 2007; we went along to their 2nd session.
We would encourage everyhound that can donate to do so (check the donor criteria here); as well as helping save lives, there are some benefits for your dog:
- A health check (just like the one your vet does) at every session; as your dog can donate every 3 months, that's up to 4 extra health checks every year to make sure they stay in tip top condition
- Full blood screen on the first donation then annually, with screening for essentials in between (more on this in a bit)
- Bowl of food and a goody bag with treats and a toy at every session
- Rewards at special donations:
- 1st – Bandanna
- 2nd – Bag
- 5th – Lead
- 10th – Water Bottle
- 15th – Hand Painted Bowl
- Personalised gifts on your 20th donation and every 5th donation after that
- Gift when your dog retires
A Donation Session
The most important thing at donation sessions is your dog – the donor; if there is the slightest doubt about whether your dog should donate on the day they don't – whatever the reason; Wyn didn't one time due a slight rash on his neck and Denny didn't once because the scales said he was underweight, even though it was proved the scales were weighing light by putting a sack of dog food on them. And even if your dog starts donating and decides it's not for them that day it stops; it really is all about your dog.
This is one of Charlie's donations and shows exactly what happens on the day.
The first thing that happens at the session is to weigh the donor, followed by a health check‐up with a fully qualified vet.
Assuming everything is OK, a small area of the neck is shaved to expose the blood vessels.
Next comes a bit of local anaesthetic gel on the shaved area.
A small blood sample is taken. Some is used there and then to check your dog is OK to donate; the rest goes back to the lab for more tests, the results of which are shared with your vet - and you if anything abnormal is found.
If everything is OK on the health check and pre-screen you'll go to the donation room. There your dog will be gently lifted on to the table and their neck swabbed, then the phlebotomist puts the needle in their neck.
All your dog has to do is lie there and have a cuddle; though some – like Milo – do like to see their human.
A very chilled Charlie is almost done. The blood collecting bag sits on scales to weigh the amount of blood; it usually takes about 5 minutes or so to collect the required amount (though Kai used to take a lot longer as he kept falling asleep and didn't pump blood very hard).
At the end of the day your dog's and everyhound else's blood goes to the lab were it is processed into it's various bits; your dog's donation can help save the lives of up to four dogs.
All done and the needle comes out. A bit of pressure is applied and the nurse takes your dog's pulse.
A pressure bandage is applied; you dog wears this for an hour or so to prevent internal blood clots.
Your dog's pulse is checked again along with their blood flow and if all is well – which in every donation we've done it has been – your dog is lifted off the table.
Now the bit they really enjoy – food. After your dog is done donating they get a bowl of food and a drink. They also get a goody bag with treats and a toy, and if it's a significant donation, a gift.
Last thing is to have their photo taken, with their mates if they are there too (this is Charlie, Dennis, and Flash); the photos go on PBBuk's Facebook page.
Having your dog's blood screened after every session can literally be a lifesaver.
Monty was found to have a raised level of a liver enzyme after a donation; the level of this enzyme is typically raised when the body is fighting off an infection, but Monty's levels were through the roof. At this point Monty showed no sign of anything being wrong.
Had it not been discovered his liver function could have declined and the liver started dying; this would have eventually led to physical signs, but by then a lot of damage would have been done to the liver. Treatment would have meant a biopsy to confirm and major surgery to remove the dead/diseased part of the liver; it goes without saying what risks that would have involved and what the post-op issues would have been.
As it was, Monty had a course of liver support drugs for a few weeks and his blood regularly tested. The enzyme level came back down to normal (it is naturally higher in greyhounds than other breeds) and after it had been stable for a few months he started donating again.
Without early detection Monty could have had a very different life; indeed, there would have been a real risk of him dying. Because PBBuk found the problem and Monty got treatment so early he went on to live a full and active life and even made emergency blood donations at our vet after he was retired from PBBuk.
Dogs, just like humans, have lots of blood types, but the thing that matters – and so what PPBuk test for – is whether their blood is DEA 1.1 Negative or Positive; and it matters loads.
DEA 1.1 Positive blood should never be given to a dog that is DEA 1.1 Negative. If it is, on the first transfusion the red blood cells will have a much shortened life (so not do much good) and the recipient will be sensitised forever to DEA 1.1 Positive blood; if it ever has DEA 1.1 Positive blood again life threatening conditions will follow in hours.
By contrast, DEA 1.1 Negative blood can be given to dogs that are DEA 1.1 Negative or Positive; DEA 1.1 Negative donors are "Universal Donors"
But only about 30% of dogs are DEA 1.1 Negative, so with most dogs being DEA 1.1 Positive, Positive blood donors are positively needed. But because DEA 1.1 Negative blood can be given to any dog, particularly in an emergency when the blood type of the recipient is not known, PBBuk are always wanting more Negative donors.
It turns out that some breeds have a higher proportion of dogs with DEA 1.1 Negative blood; they are:
- Airedale Terrier
- American Bulldog
- English Bull Terrier
- Flat-Coated Retriever
- German Shepherd
- Pointer (English)
If your dog is in the list and meets the criteria for donating please get in touch with PBBuk.
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Unit 21 & 22
Loughborough Technology Centre
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