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Double Donations

Great Falls Animal Hospital hosts simultaneous blood drives for humans and canines.

Last Thursday blood was flowing at Great Falls Animal Hospital. Fortunately, it was in the best way imaginable.

"This is the first time that we've done this that I'm aware of," said Darryl Pinkard, manager of the American Red Cross blood drive that took place in front of Great Falls Animal Hospital on Nov. 2.

It was the "first time" in two respects – in addition to being the first Red Cross blood drive held in Great Falls, it was also the first time that a Red Cross blood drive was held in conjunction with a blood drive for dogs. As the Red Cross welcomed blood donors into its large bus parked in the lot of Great Falls Animal Hospital, Eastern Veterinary Blood Bank (EVBB) veterinarians welcomed canine blood donors inside the building.

The Eastern Veterinary Blood Bank, located in Maryland, was created in 1993 to provide a humane way for canines to donate blood for use in veterinary transfusion medicine. Blood components can be used to treat anemia, clotting disorders, vonWillebrands disease, parvovirus, pancreatitis, and many other illnesses. The Eastern Veterinary Blood Bank distributes over 24,000 units of blood and plasma each year, and Great Falls Animal Hospital has been hosting Eastern Veterinary Blood Bank drives every 7-8 weeks, almost since the blood bank's inception.

Eastern Veterinary Blood Bank director Ann Schneider, DVM, was on hand at Great Falls Animal Hospital last Thursday to collect blood from the dog donors. Schneider travels to different veterinary hospitals everyday to collect canine blood donations — which just like human blood — is in high demand.

"The whole appointment takes about 20 minutes," said Schneider. "The actual blood donation doesn't take that long, but we have to first give them a full exam, and then at the end we let them rest and give them treats."

HAROLD PENLEY'S dog "Jolie" is a regular donor at the Eastern Veterinary Blood Bank drives at Great Falls Animal Hospital, and last week's was no exception.

"She loves giving blood," said Penley, who donated his blood to the Red Cross while Jolie donated her blood to the Eastern Veterinary Blood Bank. "They treat her really well and give her food, so she loves it."

In fact, Jolie's picture, along with information about the Eastern Veterinary Blood Bank drives, is posted on a bulletin board that hangs near the entrance of Great Falls Animal Hospital. The caption above Jolie's photo says "She's a Hero to Us."

Since canine donors must pass a health screening before they can give blood, they get the added advantage of receiving free diagnostic tests that would be quite costly when performed during a routine vet exam. All dogs donating blood must weigh at least 35 lbs.

The Red Cross blood drive at Great Falls Animal Hospital was also a success. The organization accepted both appointments and walk-in donors, and Pinkard said he was impressed with the turnout, and hopes to see future drives in the Great Falls area.

"It was pretty good for a first time, and I'd say we had a very good start," said Pinkard. "We would sure like to see if this could become a quarterly event."