The University of Sydney’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital has established a canine blood bank to increase the reserves of blood available for life saving transfusions. With 40% of Australian households owning a dog there is significant demand for canine blood products for illnesses such as trauma and internal bleeding caused by poisoning.
With the availability of canine blood being affected by the closure of the main supplier’s blood bank at the University of Melbourne, the need to establish a local program became an urgent priority for the team at the University of Sydney. Dr Christine Griebsch, Specialist in Small Animal Internal Medicine, explained that the program operates similarly to human blood banks. “The success of the program is dependent on the availability of suitable donors. Dogs can donate if they meet various criteria including being fit and healthy, between one and eight years of age, and at least 20 kgs. A suitable donor can donate blood every three months.”
“There are benefits for donors who participate” said Dr Griebsch. “A thorough physical examination is conducted before every donation therefore regular donors are getting check-ups by veterinarians much more frequently than most dogs. As a token of our appreciation participants are given a $100 voucher that can be redeemed on food or consumables. In addition, donors are provided with a choice of a K9 Life Saver collar or leash to acknowledge their valuable contribution.”
The hospital’s introduction of a blood bank complements a comprehensive range of general and specialist services that the University has introduced. “We are pleased to have achieved this important milestone” said Dr Griebsch. “In addition to a general practice, the clinic is a referral centre for other veterinarians to send complex cases, and a teaching hospital for veterinary science students to learn the practical components of veterinary care. The development of a blood bank was a logical step for a world class facility such as ours”.
The hospital has undergone substantial redevelopment in recent years including the purchase of more than $6 million of imaging and diagnostic equipment. It also has a 24 hour emergency service. “Our emergency service will of course rely on the blood bank which is another reason why this initiative is vitally important. We encourage dog owners to consider participating in our program. Whether it is a single donation or a regular contribution, their dog will become a life saver.”
For information on how to participate in the University’s Canine Blood Donation Program, contact the University of Sydney Veterinary Teaching Hospital on 9351 3437.