Luka to the Rescue as Blood Donor

It was the first Sunday after the Christmas and New Year rush was over, most of the dogs and cats had gone home and the last of the visitors had departed. I had washed up and hoovered round, had lunch and was just settling down for a lazy afternoon and we got a call from the local vets, Camlas in Welshpool. They needed a blood donor for a collie named Fly who had ingested rat poison, she was bleeding internally as the rat poison had stopped the blood from clotting.

I rushed straight down with Luka as he is a healthy young male of sufficient size to be able to donate the required blood. He was very good, but the vet had trouble finding a good vein, so they didn’t get enough blood from him and had to take some from the owners other dog as well. Happily Fly has made a good recovery.

There are several blood groups for dogs and on the first transfusion generally speaking a dog can have any of them, but if they need a subsequent transfusion then it has to be the right group or they can have a reaction. Some dogs will have the blood group DEA 1.1 Negative which is the equivalent of the human Rhesus negative, (which is what I am) making us universal donors, meaning that in an emergency any other group can receive our blood.

This episode made me think about how we could perhaps help the local vet’s and therefore the local canine population by adding a page on our website that you can register your dog on to be available as a potential donor. This of course would not be binding in any way; it would just show that you may be willing to help.

The dogs need to be fit and healthy and preferably of the larger or giant breeds. They need to be free of parasites and not within 10 -14 days of being vaccinated. It helps if they are obedient with a calm temperament. Blood can be taken from a cooperative dog without the need for a sedative, but if necessary blood can also be taken from a sedated dog. A large accessible vein is needed-this is typically in the neck or, sometimes, the cephalic vein on the front of the foreleg. The area is usually clipped and cleaned and aseptically prepared before insertion of the needle.

Donations should be at least three months apart. This gives the dog time to recover fully. But a healthy dog should not have any adverse reaction. There may be some slight swelling or bruising but this does not last long, Luka has been fine.

Blood is needed increasingly with the amount of procedures that are now performed on dogs, from blood loss due to road traffic accidents, which can lead to death or make anaesthesia to treat underlying damage very risky. In these cases fresh whole blood can make a great difference to the outcome.

Sometimes an animals immune system can attack its own red blood cells (immune-mediated haemolytic anaemia), and blood transfusions are necessary to prevent possible fatal anaemia whilst medical treatment is working.

As well as fresh whole blood sometimes blood can be stored for anticipated use or separated into its component parts and saved as frozen plasma, therefore one donation can sometimes help more than one recipient.

I wouldn’t ask my dog to do something I don’t do myself so yes I am also a blood donor of the human kind. Luka is not the first of our dogs to be a blood donor, previously our oldest dog Merlin was once a blood donor for one of our previous dogs who suffered immune mediated haemolytic anaemia, the transfusion gave him a new lease of life for a while but sadly due to underlying conditions and his age we did lose him in the end, this was several years ago, maybe with more recent treatments available he may have survived.

If you would like your dog to be a blood donor check with your vets to see if they hold a register of suitable dogs or register on our local donors page.

Just leave your dog’s name and a contact email on the blood donor page to register your consent so that the local vets and owners in need of donors that visit our site can contact you to add your details to their own registries.

Pictured below is Luka with owner Gerry Hill and local Vet D. Judson.


4 Responses to “Luka to the Rescue as Blood Donor”

  • Emma Cook:

    Well done Luka, you’re a star! I hope you get a good response for this invaluable service.

  • Gerry:

    Thank you to all who have read my article about the blood donations. From a couple of comments that I have had and the low response of actual potential donors, I fear there may be some confusion. We are not asking for dogs to donate blood regularly to be stored as one comment was from a veterinary assistant who said that the stored blood often gets thrown away because it’s shelf life has expired. What we are asking is that you would be willing to respond if called upon in an emergency to give a life saving donation to a dog who is in desperate need of an immediate transfusion. As I said before putting your name down is in no way binding and if the timing was inconvenient due to holidays, appointments, getting your own dog ready for a show or any other reason you can always say – no I am sorry , not this time.
    Latest news on Luka is that he got a second at Crufts, but sadly we also had bad news this week as we lost his mum Morgan, she was eight and a half and such a lovely girl. We all miss her terribly.

  • cassie cook:

    luka saves the day!!!

  • cassie cook:

    love you luka. you’re so brave…acctualy maybe not when it comes to mischa the chihuahua(i think thats how you spell it!!!!!!!!!!!)


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