Meeting Mopane: A canine blood donor for the 15th time!

Meet Mopane, the 5-year-old female staghound cross and one of our champion canine blood donors. Since providing her first donation as a 1-year-old, Mopane has contributed a massive 15 times which equates to a potential 45 lives saved!

Like many of our donors, Mopane loves visiting the staff who work in our Blood Donation Program. When visiting U-Vet, she is known for excitedly hopping up on the trolley, instantly rolling over for belly rubs and non-stop tail wagging. For Mopane, the best part of donating is saved to last, when she is showered with affection, attention and best of all treats!

Blood donor dog eating celebratory cake
Image: Mopane celebrating her 15th donation with a her well deserved pup-cake

Edible cake topper for the cake to celebrate Mopane's 15th blood donation
Image: Pet friendly cake topper designed in Mopane's honour

Donor dogs such as Mopane are able to safely donate every 3 months. With every single donation potentially able to save the lives of 3 dogs, the Blood Donation Program makes an essential difference for those dogs in need of a life-saving blood transfusion.

For other dogs to join Mopane in this vitally important job, there are specific criteria which must meet including:

  • Weighing 25 kilograms or over
  • Fully vaccinated
  • Regularly wormed
  • Between 1 and 5 years of age
  • Never received a blood transfusion
  • Calm temperament

The temperament of donors is an important requirement, as they are expected to lie on their side between 10-20 minutes while remaining very still. For some dogs this is an easy task, but for others it can be unusual, boring or even stressful. As we want our special blood donors to have a positive experience, if we feel at any moment the dog is not willing, the process is stopped immediately.

Before getting the final tick of approval to donate, dogs are required to pass a physical examination of their heart, lungs, body condition and temperature. During this assessment, a small blood sample is collected and tested for any underlying disease, heartworm, complete blood count, coagulation profile, as well as blood type. Like humans, dogs also have blood types which are categorised as either DEA1 negative or DEA1 positive. The most important blood type in dogs is DEA1 (dog erythrocyte antigen 1), as this blood can be given safely to both DEA1 negative or positive dogs, while DEA1 positive blood can only be transfused to a DEA1 positive recipient. The careful examination of each potential donor ensures the safety of both the donor and blood receiving dog.

Once the blood is collected, it first must be processed before it can be transfused. The collected blood unit is placed in a centrifuge and spun to separate the red blood cells from the plasma. The plasma is removed and frozen and the remaining red blood cells have a cell nutrient added to help them survive while stored in a special fridge. By separating the red blood cell component, we are potentially able to help more patients depending on their size and need. Once this process is complete, the red blood cells can be stored from 2- 6°C for up to 35 days and plasma can be stored at -80°C for up to 36 months ready for any dog in need, 24/7.

Just like dogs, cats also need life-saving blood transfusions, and thus feline blood donors are as important. Feline donors need to weigh over 4 kilograms and like canines need to be calm, up-to-date with preventative treatments and must have never themselves received a blood transfusion.

Both canine and feline donors retire from service at 7 years of age, so there is always a need for new donors to join our pack of life saving heroes!

If you think your dog or cat could join our list of star donors please contact us via our Blood Donation Program page.

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