A blood bank for dogs

Awareness about medical emergency situations has led to mushrooming of several blood banks and emergency health care units in the past two decades. Amid rigorous awareness campaigns by the government and police, it took a veterinary practitioner at Rajokri village near Gurgaon to raise a simple question what of canine emergencies?

There is only one government blood bank for animals Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS) which was set up in 2010. Over the last month, Dr Vinod Sharma, chief medical officer at Jeevashram, a private veterinary hospital at Rajokri, has managed to set up the first private blood bank. "In the nearly two decades that I have worked at this hospital, we have seen so many dogs dying, simply because we could not provide them blood when they needed it. Even when we arranged for blood, there was no system of blood group matching, and dogs died of reactions from cross-blood-group transfusions," Sharma says .

With 11 registered blood donors, and five transfusions already done, Sharma is a happy man. "When I was starting out, I had to fight my way through, even to get proper disposable blood bags to store the blood and needles. People would laugh when I would try to explain the concept. Though when I think in retrospect, isn't it the most obvious thing in the world? If you have blood banks for humans, why not for animals?" he says. Then there were questions from donors, for instance, about cross-breed donation. "It was a novel concept. So people did not know. Like when I said a German shepherd can donate to any breed people were shocked," Sharma says. Pricking the jugular vein to extract the blood was another point, which raised worried questions from donors.

Since his first blood recipient, Soldier, a mastiff, who received a unit after his haemoglobin levels dropped considerably, several lives have been saved. "I have started getting calls from vets around the NCR region. There is a huge demand for blood while treating animals, and somebody needed to step in," Sharma says.

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