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Canine blood bank opens its doors

COUNTLESS DOGS’ lives will be saved over the coming months and years now that the UK’s vets will for the first time have access to a nationwide small animal pet blood bank.

Supported by Vets Now, the UK’s leading emergency and critical care veterinary providers, Pet Blood Bank UK (PBBuk) has been established as a not for profit charity and is the first service of its kind to collect, process, store and supply pet blood products on a nationwide scale. This will enable veterinary practices throughout the UK to stock life saving blood products for their patients.

A change in legislation in October 2005 made it possible for vets to apply for licensing to the VMD to bank pet blood products. Recognising this as an opportunity to develop a national pet blood bank, Vets Now decided to support the set up of the PBBuk charity, based in a state of the art unit in Loughborough, Leicestershire.

PBBuk will collect canine blood from volunteer dogs that will then be processed into various blood products. These include whole blood, packed red blood cells, fresh frozen plasma, frozen plasma, cryoprecipitate and cryo-supernatant. The blood products will then be available to veterinary practices across the UK for both emergency and pre-planned transfusions. The opportunity to order these products from the PBBuk means that veterinary practices can be permanently stocked with these products, so when a transfusion needs to be carried out the blood or plasma products will already be on site and instantly accessible.

Traditionally veterinary practices needing to perform transfusions relied on suitable donor dogs being available in their clinic for them to bleed. This need has been highlighted by the excellent recent initiatives such as the Animal Blood Registry who store information about potential animal donors for vets to access. The PBBuk will also rely on blood donations from donor dogs with the advantage that they will be collected via pre-planned blood drives, where the blood taken will be immediately processed and then shipped to veterinary practices to be stored in their premises providing immediate access to the products. The fact that a vet can immediately access the products within their own clinic means that they no longer risk not being able to source blood products in the event of an emergency.

The service had its official launch at this year’s Crufts and from mid-March, PBBuk made contact with veterinary practices to provide them with information about running a blood drive. The blood drives were held at practices within a two hour drive of the PBBuk base, allowing suitable time for blood to be collected, returned to the premises and processed.

Wendy Barnett, Executive Director of Pet Blood Bank UK, said, ‘Pet Blood Bank UK is an exciting new initiative which will help to save the lives of dogs across the whole of the UK. One donation can help as many as four dogs and virtually all larger types of dog can donate. Dogs across the country will have access to the products through their veterinary practices. This marks a significant advancement in veterinary care.’

Richard Dixon, Managing Director of Vets Now, said, ‘Vets Now is delighted to support the UK’s first national pet blood bank. This initiative will help the profession transform the future of transfusion medicine for small animals. Indeed, as providers of emergency veterinary care, we see the need for blood products to a great extent so understand how vital it is to have access to these products. It was a natural choice for us to support PBBuk. The mission and values of PBBuk align with Vets Now’s mission to improve the lives of vets and pets in the UK.’