Nothing is more frightening than the realization that your furry family member needs a life-saving surgery and more than that, a blood transfusion.
Where does the blood come from? With humans, the Red Cross provides blood to hospitals around the country. Well, fortunately, Penn Vet offers a blood bank with a mobile bloodmobile to make donating convenient and easy.
Penn Animal Blood Bank, or PABB, manages a large volunteer blood donor program to meet the transfusion needs of the patients at Penn Vet. PABB carefully screens both canine and feline blood donors for general health and infectious diseases to protect both the blood donor and the recipient.
All blood is collected by certified veterinary technicians and processed and stored in-house to maintain PABB’s high standards for quality blood products. A unit of blood is typically separated into packed red blood cells (PRBCs) and plasma, though other blood components (e.g., platelet concentrate, cryoprecipitate) are prepared to meet the specific transfusion needs of a patient. Administration of blood components rather than whole blood allows a single blood donation to help more than one patient and may decrease the risk of certain types of transfusion reactions.
The School of Veterinary Medicine unveiled and dedicated a new Animal Bloodmobile on May 7 at the Veterinary Hospital (VHUP). The Bloodmobile was made possible by a generous gift from the Wurster Family Foundation. Bogie, a Labrador retriever owned by members of the Wurster family, was a VHUP patient whose life was saved by numerous blood transfusions.
The new Bloodmobile will be used for blood drives organized by breeders, dog clubs and veterinarians in the Delaware Valley. These drives are held two or three times a week. Blood is collected from 10 to 15 dogs that are brought by their owners. The donation takes just a few minutes and the dogs don’t mind the collection. They are rewarded with a treat of meaty dog food and lots of pats on the head. The blood is brought back to VHUP where it is processed and separated into its components such as red blood cells, plasma, and clotting factors. One unit of blood helps more than one patient. The blood and blood products are typed and matched to ensure compatibility between donor and patient.
To donate blood, a dog must be good-tempered, at least one year of age, weigh at least 50 lbs., be in excellent health and have current vaccination status. Those interested in having their dog donate blood should contact the Penn Animal Blood Bank at (215) 573-7222.
To learn more about Penn Vet’s Bloodmobile – and how your dog can become a donor, click here.