One of Ireland’s top veterinary hospitals has called for a national canine blood bank service, similar to the one in the UK.
Kevin Murtagh, a veterinarian at the University College of Dublin Veterinary Hospital, says Irish practices don’t have the “luxury” of the Pet Blood Bank UK, which delivers blood to vets across the UK.
Dr Murtagh, an assistant professor who has practiced in Lincolnshire, Liverpool and Winchester, said UK vets can call the National Blood Bank and have blood products delivered at any time.
He said: “In Ireland we don’t have this system, and the blood we donate to our patients is completely dependent on the public bringing their dog to us and donating.
“I would absolutely be in favor of something similar to the British system in Ireland.”
An Irish national blood bank “would make the treatment of our patients more efficient and other practices across the country could use this system as well,” he said.
Dr Murtagh’s appeal is supported by Monica Augusto, Clinical Manager of the Blood Donation Program at UCD Vet Hospital.
She told Sky News that it would be “beautiful” to have a national blood bank in Ireland.
“It would involve a variety of vets and be a bigger program than the one we have now, yes it would be really, really good to have that at some point,” she said.
“I’m sure local practices would appreciate it, as they have a hard time finding donors in general and having blood available when they need it.”
And blood is certainly needed.
In Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, a four-year-old miniature schnauzer named Bertie is recovering from a severe immune disorder that prompted him to rush to UCD veterinary hospital two months ago.
As part of her treatment, Bertie received a life-saving transfusion.
Her owner Chris Murphy said: “As an owner you tend not to think of dog blood donors, but without that blood donation Bertie would have died.
“We went from a perfectly healthy dog to a dog who just wouldn’t have survived without this blood donation.”
“A lot of people don’t realize that donating blood is a thing in our business or don’t realize that dogs need it as part of their treatment,” said Dr Murtagh.
“Dogs are very similar to humans, they suffer from a myriad of diseases that require blood transfusions, and without them many would not survive.
“From an internal medicine perspective, we see a lot of cases that require blood transfusions to give drugs time to fight any disease, and without it we would have many more deaths.
“There are cases that require multiple transfusions. It is not uncommon for a dog to need two or three or more blood transfusions for this one disease alone, which is why donors are so important for us to treat. our animals. “
UCD’s veterinary hospital was forced to issue an “urgent” appeal for blood in December after it ran out of supplies.
There has been an “incredible” response from the public, according to Monica Augusto, but the pressure is still there for supply.
At the clinic, Bodhi, a cross between a collie and a one-year-old retriever, donates blood.
It meets the physical criteria; dogs must be between one and eight years of age, weigh over 25 kilograms, be fully vaccinated, have never received a transfusion and have never traveled outside of Ireland or the United Kingdom.
A good temperament is also required, and after a sedative Bodhi is able to donate a unit of blood with a minimum of fuss.
Dr Murtagh says donor dogs generally “don’t seem to care at all, and they don’t have any side effects either. They are generally very calm.”
He added: “Sometimes if they’re a little upset we give them something to help them relax a bit.”
In the absence of a national blood bank in Ireland, vital work at hospitals like UCD will continue to depend on donors like Bodhi brought directly to the hospital – so patients like Bertie can have a second chance at to live.