The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is celebrating World Blood Donor Day (14 June) by honouring the incredible animal superheroes who donate to its blood donor programme. These heroic efforts help to save the lives of hundreds of pets every year. As part of this, its registered charity, the RVC Animal Care Trust, has presented “Blood Donor of the Year” awards to two very special families of canine and feline blood donors in recognition of these life-saving donations.
The first award has been given to the Lines family. Cydney (German Shepherd and Rottweiler crossbreed), Bernie (St Bernard and Labrador crossbreed), and Dash (German shepherd and Great Dane crossbreed) are dogs that have just retired from the service after seven years and have been a lifeline to so many. Together, the dogs made 51 donations that facilitated more than 100 transfusions. They helped with six bypass cases and were available for emergencies. Sadly, Dash passed away earlier this year, and so the award is also in honour of his service and a celebration of him and his family.
Gill Lines, owner and recipient of the Canine Donors of the Year award, said:
“We are so thrilled to have been given this award, especially after losing Dash. We just love being a part of the blood transfusion team and it always feels so wonderful when we receive thankyous from owners whose pets have been saved by our lovely boys.
“We have signed up a few friends to the scheme over the years and would recommend it to everyone. Our boys have loved the attention (and the food!) and we love that they are so well looked after and have their bloods checked regularly as a result. Now that our dogs are retired, we hope to be back with new family members in the future.”
The feline donor award has been awarded to the Wood family. They first became aware of the programme when their cat, Meadows, was referred to the RVC for treatment. Meadows sadly passed away, but since 2016, Margaret Wood has been bringing in her five British shorthair cats to donate blood. Rusper, Uffington, Forrester, Clover and Sir Redwood have made 25 donations between them, helping approximately 50 critically ill cats. One of these blood donations was able to save a recently retired long-term feline blood donor, Mikey, who had been hit by a car and required a transfusion.
Margaret Wood, owner and recipient of the Feline Donors of the Year award, said:
“They love coming to donate blood and are spoiled rotten while they are here. This last year has been a challenge but my boys have given blood without me by their side very happily and have a good sleep in the car on the way home. My wonderful cats have now saved over 50 cats between them and that makes me so proud and is such an amazing legacy for my beloved Meadows.”
The pioneering blood donor programme helps keep hundreds of critically ill animals alive every year. Over 200 heroic dogs and cats visit the RVC’s Queen Mother Hospital for Animals to donate their blood. In the past year alone, there have been almost 500 canine transfusions, and nearly 150 feline transfusions. COVID-19 has presented the team with challenges due to restrictions brought in to keep the hospital safe. Despite this, pet owners have continued to support the service ensuring that the animal hospital has the blood it needs to support the variety and complexity of treatments offered at the RVC, including open-heart and spinal surgery, emergency and critical care and cancer treatment.
Charlotte Russo, Senior Transfusion Medicine RVN at the RVC, explains:
“Every year we are blessed with so many fabulous donors and every single one of them deserves the Blood Donor of the Year award. Both donor families we selected come in with their multiple pets to support each other through their donations. They are long-term, dedicated donors who have been on the programme for years and their pets have helped countless patients during their time with us.
“Managing blood donations around COVID-19 restrictions has been incredibly difficult but if we can take anything away from this, it’s that communities, families and friends are invaluable – and that is especially true with our blood donors. Both pets and owners have risen to the challenge to ensure that vital blood donations continue to be available, and lives continue to be saved. We are so proud of all of them and so grateful for their support.”
The RVC and Animal Care Trust rely exclusively on the goodwill of local pet owners who bring their pets to donate blood; they are not paid for this service. Donors are given health checks before donations and a full blood screening is performed free of charge annually. Donors are also provided with a special blood donor tag to recognise their support, and each receives a special gift when they retire.
The blood transfusion team is calling for more dogs and cats to donate to the programme. If you think your pet could be an RVC superhero, please contact the RVC Blood Donor team for further information.