Pet Blood Bank visit NDSR

For the past two years I’ve been trying to organise a Pet Blood Bank blood drive. The practice I work at uses blood products on an almost weekly basis and we would be lost without the Pet Blood Bank. For this reason, it became a target of mine that we would host a blood drive. It was my goal for 2018 and for one reason and another it rolled over into 2019.

Pet Blood Bank: 2 years in the making

The PBB works in two ways. Either you as a practice need to get a donor list together, 40 dogs that meet the requirements, these can be found here. This was a struggle for us as most of our patients are unwell and not suitable candidates. The other way is that dog owners can register via the PBB website and then they will get all the information together.

Then the good news came, another practice in our area had ceased to host drives and so they had registered donors that needed a location. We managed to get a mutually agreeable date in the diary and the countdown was on. I was quite stressed as we had to go for a weekday slot and our place can get very busy.

The PBB were amazing in the run up (and during) keeping in contact, contacting the clients, and doing all the planning. All they required from us was a couple of rooms and someone to meet and great. On the day the team arrived promptly and soon got to work setting up their room. They need two areas to work in, one room to do the pre-donation checks and run a PCV. Then a second room to actually do the donation. After the donation another area is used to feed the life saver and also get a quick snap for social media.

One life saver awaiting her snacks post donation at the PBB drive at NDSR
One life saver awaiting her snacks

Pet Blood Bank: Happiness first

I followed a few of the lifesavers to get an idea of what was involved. Firstly, they go into the pre-donation room where they have their paperwork reviewed, an area clipped and EMLA applied. Followed by a full health check and then a quick blood sample from the cephalic. They carry out a PCV/TS on site and then the blood is screened back at head office. Once they had passed the checks and been weighed, they then proceed to the next stage.

The donating dog’s welfare of the most importance and if they show any signs of stress then they aren’t allowed to proceed. One the potential life savers didn’t like the clippers, and another wouldn’t go into the room! So, they were advised that donation wouldn’t be happening.

Once into the room a big welcome greets them and once again everything is explained to the owner. The PBB work with a fixed table and nice squishy mattress. They then calmly but confidently lift the life saver onto the mattress and spend some time allowing them to relax. They must lie in lateral with their head down. If they aren’t happy to do this the donation is abandoned. The owners are encouraged to stay but remain at the head end giving lots of fuss.

Pre donation checks at the PBB
Pre donation checks at the PBB

Pet Blood Bank: The next step

They then clean and prep the area that the EMLA has been applied to. I’ll admit I was pretty shocked at the size of needle, it’s the same as the one they use for people but very different to what we are used too in practice. In all honestly though the dogs really don’t mind! Generally, there are two people holding the dog and one person in charge of bleeding.

On the floor is a set of scales and the bag rests on this. Each gram is approx. 1ml and the bag steadily fills. A minimum usable amount must be reached but a lot of dogs can donate a little more dependent on their weight. The bag is gently agitated during donation and once the amount is reached the needle is removed. I was super impressed at the phlebotomy skills- not a single missed vein all day. Pretty impressive when there are clients watching too.

Donation bag collecting with blood
Bag filling steadily during donation

Once the needle is removed a pressure bandage is applied and the dog is then placed back onto the floor. During the donation their heart rates are checked, and any signs of stress are watched for. Once the team are happy with them, they go onto the next stage. This is the fun bit! A snack, a snap for social media and then they get to pick their toy. ‘Fish for Dogs’ supply a goodie bag for them and there a huge range of toys.

The PBB have a reward type scheme where depending on the number of donations they also get a bonus gift. The last two donators of the day had me in stitches. They grabbed a toy each and promptly sprinted into reception (luckily, we were closed!) where a tug of war kicked off.

Pet Blood Bank: Happy dogs and saving lives

It was so refreshing to spend time with happy, jolly and well dogs. We forget in referrals so much of what we do is high pressured and often with very sick patients. It truly was a welcome afternoon of fun but also for a very important cause. 7 dogs were able to donate full amounts, and this means there will be 28 blood products produced and a possible 28 lives saved!! The PBB are pretty amazing and as soon as they finished the session they drove back up to the midlands where the blood was then processed. A long old day and the team are just so dedicated.

Thank you to both NDSR and the PBB for this fab day and I truly cannot wait until the next session.

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