Blood bank operations

Registration and further information

elain-veripankki@helsinki.fi or phone 02941 57368 (veterinary nurse in charge of the feline blood bank)

Any cat can suddenly encounter a situation where donated blood may save its life. Cat heroes are needed!

The feline blood bank is focused on helping seriously ill cat patients. Blood donated by volunteers and red cells and plasma prepared from the blood are primarily used for seriously ill or injured patients treated at the intensive care unit.

Cat patients may need blood products due to, for example, blood loss caused by an injury, serious inflammation or a disease resulting in anaemia. Patients undergoing a demanding surgical operation may need a whole blood transfusion or other blood products.

Every cat registered in the blood bank is extremely important to us – and, above all, to our cat patients.

From registration to donation

Once the owner has completed the registration form on behalf of their cat, the cat will be invited for tests on the basis of the information provided. Before the donation, the health of the cat will be thoroughly examined, including the careful testing of the blood. Once we have ascertained that there are no risks to the donor’s health, the donation will be carried out at a later appointment.

The cat heroes must be calm and easy to handle, as we do not want the procedure to cause any stress to the donors. The vein will be accessed in the foreleg of donor cats, preferably with the cat awake.

Donating blood

During the donation procedure, the cat is under light anaesthesia. The cat's neck will be shaved and carefully disinfected, and the blood will be collected from the jugular vein. During the procedure, the cat is administered fluids intravenously to substitute for the donated blood.

The anaesthesia is closely controlled to make the donation as safe as possible for the cat hero. After the procedure, recovery from the anaesthesia is monitored in the hospital. Once the hero is awake, it will be given energy-rich food to maintain its blood glucose level.

After receiving the appropriate amount of fluids, and after eating and recovering fully from the anaesthesia, the pet can be taken back home to be pampered.

All cat breeds are accepted as donors, and they need not be registered.

Blood donor cats must be

  • Healthy and docile, easy to handle
  • Between 1 and 8 years of age
  • At least 5 kg in weight
  • Housecats (Walking outdoors in a harness and in an outdoor enclosure is allowed.)
  • Vaccinated and eradicated of parasites at regular intervals
  • FeLV and FIV negative, if known (NB! These viral diseases are tested immediately before donating for all cats.)
  • Residents of Finland for the past 12 months
  • Not a blood transfusion recipient

Our heroic cats are rewarded with a Royal Canin lunch and an assortment of Royal Canin samples.

Contact details

elain-veripankki@helsinki.fi
Phone 050 433 3200 on Thursday afternoons

The canine blood bank has been operating at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital since 2000. Its operations are based entirely on the activity of volunteer donors.

The blood bank conducts close cooperation with the intensive care unit. Red cells and plasma prepared from donors’ blood are used for seriously ill or injured patients treated at the intensive care unit.

The most common patient types helped by blood transfusions are dogs that have been in an accident or have ingested rat poison, dogs bitten by a snake and dogs suffering from severe anaemia or a coagulation factor deficiency, as well as puppies weakened by parvovirus.

Before the donation, dogs registered in the blood bank are invited for blood grouping. At the blood grouping appointment, the health of the dog is examined, and a blood sample is collected for the blood grouping and measurement of the basic blood values.

Any dog can suddenly encounter a situation where donated blood may save its life. Dog heroes are needed!

Dogs have several blood types. The type most in demand in the blood bank is DEA 1.1-negative, needed by emergency room patients. This is why not all dogs whose blood type is DEA 1.1 are invited to donate blood.

The procedure is usually carried out on Thursday before noon. Dogs suited for donating are sent a separate invitation. During the procedure, the dog is awake, but if necessary, the dog can be lightly sedated. Before the procedure, a blood sample is collected to measure the red blood cell volume fraction, the proteins in the blood and the urea level, one of the two renal values. The blood is taken from the jugular vein. The site is shaved and carefully disinfected. Dogs donate approximately 450 ml of blood at one time. Dogs that are sedated are intravenously administered physiological saline solution in an amount corresponding with the amount of donated blood. A blood donation appointment lasts roughly an hour. Dogs can donate blood no more than three times per year.

Royal Canin, a partner of the canine blood bank, rewards donor dogs for their heroic deeds with Royal Canin dry food.

Dogs of all breeds can be registered in the blood bank. Dogs need not be entered in the register of the Finnish Kennel Club, but to be able to donate they must be

  • Healthy
  • Between 2 and 7 years of age
  • Over 30 kg in weight
  • Vaccinated and eradicated of parasites at regular intervals
  • Born in either Finland or another Nordic country
  • Not a blood transfusion recipient

Blood grouping and donation dates

We offer our thanks to all of the registered dogs in advance. We are processing registration lists, and you will be contacted. Once we have received your registration, you will be invited to a blood grouping appointment.
 

About canine blood types

DEA (Dog Erythrocyte Antigen) 1.1 is the most important canine blood type for which donor dogs are tested. The blood of DEA 1.1-negative dogs suits all dogs, while that of DEA 1.1-positive dogs only suits other DEA 1.1-positive dogs.

Roughly half of all dogs are DEA 1.1-negative and the rest DEA 1.1-positive. However, due to being used for emergency room patients, the demand for DEA 1.1-negative blood is much higher. This is why only a certain share of DEA 1.1-positive dogs are invited to donate blood.

An equine blood bank operates at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, for which new donors are constantly needed. Blood is needed year round for seriously ill horses and ponies. Plasma prepared from blood especially benefits foals that suffer from postnatal antibody deficiency. Plasma can also be utilised in the case of certain serious illnesses, such as in the treatment following colic surgery. Plasma is needed in blood poisoning cases, for protein and coagulation factor deficiencies as well as in hepatic and renal diseases. Plasma is primarily collected for the treatment of hospitalised patients. Registration is completed through the booking services of the Equine Hospital.

Will my horse be a heroic blood donor?

For safety reasons, donor horses must be

  • Healthy
  • Between 2 and 16 years of age
  • Over 300 kg in weight
  • Never have been pregnant
  • Vaccinated and eradicated of parasites at regular intervals
  • Not recipients of blood transfusions or plasma
  • Not diagnosed with blood diseases (e.g., piroplasmosis)
  • Residents of Finland for the past 24 months

We need as donors horses of different breeds, since blood types are the closest to each other among horses of the same breed. In particular, we are looking for Finnhorse and Standardbred trotters as donors.

At the donation appointment, the health of the horse is first examined, after which a small area around the jugular vein is shaved to be able to collect the blood in a clean manner. A small sample of blood is collected, and the results are disclosed to the owner. The horse will be sedated for the duration of the procedure, which lasts roughly an hour. For a few days after the donation, the heroic donor must be allowed only light exercise.

The procedure can be handily carried out also in conjunction with another procedure, such as a lameness examination, shoeing or pre-purchase examination. In such cases, the administrative fee is waived.

The heroic donors are offered a health examination and, as a pick-me-up, Nutrisal electrolyte drink powder by Orion Pharma Animal Health. In addition to feeling content, owners gain information on the current health status of their horse.