For more than four years, Sergeant gave his precious blood to his fellow canine species in Costa Rica. Until recently, the mixed breed male dog was a common sight at the Canine Blood Bank, which was organized by Veterinaria Machado in Heredia.
Every four months, Sergeant would donate 450 ml of blood, but the dog’s age prompted veterinarians to retire him.
Sergeant, a zaguate, was one of the first donors at the Canine Blood Bank of Costa Rica. His blood was mostly used to treat dogs that have been abandoned, neglected or abused. Veterinarian Anderson Machado explained to daily tabloid La Teja that the Canine Blood Bank was an idea concocted by various animal health care professionals in Costa Rica.
Prior to founding the Canine Blood Bank, veterinarians in Costa Rica chose just about any dog for blood transfusions, which are typically used in emergency situations. This was far from an ideal situation; dogs have eight major blood groups that require a process similar to that of cross-matching in human medicine. According to Cornell University, dog erythrocyte antigen (DEA) ranges from group 1.1 to 8:
The major antigens are DEA 1.1 and DEA 1.2. Dogs can be positive for either (not both) DEA 1.1 or 1.2 or are negative for both. Naturally occurring antibodies occur in 20% of DEA 3-negative, 10% of DEA 5-negative, and 20-50% of DEA 7-negative dogs.
The importance of cross-matching in blood transfusions for canines is further explained below:
Acute hemolytic transfusion reactions only occur in DEA 1.1 and 1.2 negative dogs. As these dogs do not have naturally occurring antibodies, a reaction will only be seen after sensitization of the dog through exposure to DEA 1.1 or 1.2 positive blood (antibody production takes 7-10 days after exposure). The normal lifespan of compatible transfused erythrocytes in dogs is approximately 21 days.
Veterinaria Machado keeps a registry of 450 donors. These dogs are selected by the staff at the clinic; they base their criteria on the dog’s age, weight and overall health. The dog’s breed is not a factor. When the dogs’ owners agree to their companion animals becoming donors, they get free checkups and laboratory tests. The donors arrive at the blood bank every four months and offer one of their paws for venipuncture. They are given a can of premium dog food after the donation.
Article by Costa Rica Star