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Cat and dog blood donors needed, says Ghent University

Photo by Werzk Luuu on Unsplash.

The Small Animal Clinic of Ghent University is looking for dog and cat blood donors.

The demand for animal blood transfusions is increasing, according to reporting from De Standaard, although it remains an exceptional procedure.

Donor blood is needed when an animal suffers from an autoimmune disease, after surgery, or if it has ingested rat poison, Professor Dominique Paepe of the clinic, a senior lecturer in the small animal department at Ghent University, told the Dutch-language newspaper.

“Last year we performed about two hundred transfusions. We now have between 150 and 200 donor animals, but we actually need 20% more,” Paepe said.

“There is a great need for cats in particular. We already often split the blood into blood cells and plasma to be able to help more animals.”

Pet owners who would like to have their animal’s blood donated can do so at the clinic in Ghent or the one at University of Liège.

“We always have a limited stock for urgent cases. But vets also have to give blood sometimes. They often use a large dog they own as a donor, or ask relatives with pets for help,” said Paepe.

A transfusion of pet blood can cost between €140 and €150, which includes the costs of a follow-up, and is generally paid by the owner of the animal or their pet insurance, if they have it.

Paepe says that few people in Belgium do, and the procedure isn’t profitable for clinics.

While owners of pets who donate blood aren’t compensated with money, the animals must be healthy in order to donate and so they’re given a free health check-up, along with a voucher for pet food.

“They are people with a heart for animals,” Paepe explained when asked why someone would have their pet donate blood without financial compensation.

“Some of them have pets themselves that needed a blood transfusion before. Often staff members and students of the university volunteer their animals and we also get animals through breed associations. But they are all people who know that without donors we cannot help some animals.”

Today is World Blood Donor Day, and the Belgian Red Cross is looking for humans to donate if they can in order to help with a critically low supply they’re facing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

People must make an appointment to donate under current Covid-19 measures, and can do so via the Red Cross website in French (Brussels or Wallonia) or Dutch (Flanders).

The Brussels Times