In this VETgirl online veterinary CE blog, we demonstrate how to perform a whole blood transfusion. This video is a bit atypical as we’re drawing blood from one large donor (an approximately 35 kg pit bull mix) and splitting it directly into two separate, sterile units of whole blood. This way, we can maximize the amount of blood we are getting from our donor without compromising sterility.

So, our first goal, is to blood type the patient to identify what best blood donor will be appropriate. In this video, we use a Alvedia QuickTest DEA 1 test. Our patient’s name is Maxi and is DEA 1.1 negative based on this test. Next, we use a pre-screened, healthy donor and draw a sample blood test to check a PCV and perform a cross match. We want to avoid using the jugular vein to save it for blood donation in this situation.

Next, we calculate how much blood we will draw from the patient, perform appropriate calculations and determine our plan for donation. We calculate the appropriate amount of anticoagulant (in this case, CPDA, at a 1:7-9 ml ratio of preservative to blood). We also calculate how many grams our bag should weigh based on 1 ml equaling approximately 1 gram. Next, we make sure to be well prepared with all our materials in place and in sterile order. Here, we’re going to use two sterile blood donor bags connected to a 3-way stop cock system to help coat our phlebotomy line with CPDA and distribute it appropriately to each sterile blood donor collection bag.

Best part? Picking the best dog ever to donate – here, our donor readily donates, stays still while sitting up (atypical, as most are in lateral recumbency), and donates two separate but sterile smaller units of whole blood. We gently rock this back and forth to distribute the CPDA and blood, and weigh it carefully to make sure we have collected the appropriate volume. Once done, we clamp off the tubing appropriately, and reward our donor with some subcutaneous fluids and lots of treats.

We immediately use the whole blood transfusion and administer it to our patient. Remember, refrigerating the whole blood unit will negate platelet function, so ideally we want to administer it immediately. Otherwise, you can store the whole blood unit in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours as fresh whole blood or < 30 days for stored whole blood.

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