Within 24 hours of your dog donating, their blood could be on its way to help save the life of another dog.
Collecting the blood
We take approximately 450ml of blood during a donation from your dog. The blood goes into a special blood collection bag which contains a solution to stop the blood from clotting. The blood is collected into one bag but there are a further three bags attached to this which we use during processing.
After the donation session, we take the blood back to our processing centre in Loughborough. We transport it in a protective box which allows it to cool down gradually to around 20°C. This is the optimum temperature for processing blood.
Processing the blood
When the blood arrives at our processing centre, our lab team inspect each unit and log the unique reference number which relates to your dog. This means every unit of blood is traceable back to the donor.
The tubing and needle are removed from the collection bag in sterile conditions. The blood is then placed in a machine called a centrifuge. The centrifuge spins the blood very quickly for 15 minutes to allow the heavier red blood cells to separate from the plasma.
Once we remove the blood from the centrifuge, the plasma is transferred into one of the other collection bags. We add a nutrient to the red cell component, which stays in the original bag, to extend the shelf life to six weeks. If needed, the bag of red cells and the bag of plasma can then be split in half to make two smaller units for smaller dogs. This is how one donation of blood can help up to four other dogs.
Storing the blood
Red blood cells are stored in the fridge and have a shelf life of six weeks. Plasma is stored frozen and has a shelf life of up to five years.
Dispatching and using the blood
The units of red blood cells and plasma are stored at Pet Blood Bank until a vet needs them for a dog. When blood is ordered, it is packed carefully in a temperature controlled box and sent by courier to the vet practice that needs it. The blood is warmed to body temperature by the vet before it is given to a sick or injured dog.