By: Animal Er  09-12-2011
Keywords: Plasma, Transfusion


Why use component therapy instead of whole blood?

It makes sense to utilize the valuable resource of donated blood as efficiently as possible. It is also good medicine to minimize treatment risks whenever possible.

Toward these ends, the VABS separates blood into component products. This allows the storage of plasma far beyond the shelf-life of red blood cells (RBCs). It also decreases the risk of transfusion reactions by giving plasma instead of whole blood when plasma only is needed, as the RBC is the most antigenic portion of blood. Similarly, the risk of volume overload is lower if Packed RBCs are used rather than Whole Blood when treating an anemia unaccompanied by hypoproteinemia or hypovolemia.

Blood and components have been collected from pet canine donors who have been volunteered by their owners. The donors have received vaccinations for at least their first 3 years of life, and are current on immunization for Canine Distemper, Adenovirus type 2, and Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza, Canine Parvo Virus and Rabies based on their family veterinarian’s recommendations.

VABS donors undergo extensive screening through Central Laboratory for Veterinarians, including CBC/chemistry, U/A and fecal ova/parasite. They have been tested for von Willebrand Factor (vWF), canine Brucella, Lyme disease, EhrIichia canis, Babesia canis and gibsonii, and Dirofilaria immitis. They have been fully typed for DEA 1.1, 3, 4, 5,
(+/- 7). Donors classified as “Universal” are negative for all antigens except DEA 4. The donor’s blood type is indicated on the PRBC label.

Packed Red Blood Cells (PRBCs) (~ 120 per unit)
The PRBCs have been separated from the plasma portion of the blood. This allows delivery of red blood cells with reduced risk of volume overload. PRBCs may be stored at refrigerator temperature for up to 42 days. The expiry date will be noted on the unit. This product is more likely to induce hypersensitivity reactions than plasma products, so VABS strongly recommends blood typing and cross-matching recipients before transfusion. (In-house cross-matching instructions are available upon request.)

Fresh Frozen Plasma (FFP) (~ 120 ml per unit)
FFP is plasma that has been separated and frozen within 6 hours of collection. FFP contains labile and stable clotting factors, albumin, alpha-macroglobulins, antithrombin III, electrolytes, and other plasma nutrients. It can be stored up to 1 year in a standard freezer. After 1 year, it can be stored for an additional 4 years, but it is considered frozen instead of fresh-frozen and is not recommended if labile clotting factors are needed. Common indications for FFP include: coagulopathies due to Vitamin K toxicosis, vWD, pancreatitis, DIC, hypoalbuminemia.
Platelets are not viable in refrigerated or frozen blood products.

Fresh Whole Blood (~200 ml / ~ 400 ml per unit). Sometimes a dog just needs it all – red cells, fresh plasma, and platelets. Freshly collected blood (less than 6 hours since collection) is a “special needs” product. Call VABS when you need it. We will make every effort to obtain a donor.

As described above, VABS takes every precaution to ensure all donors are carefully screened and that each blood product is processed and handled with the utmost care. Despite these measures, such hazards as bacterial contamination of a product could occur. The effect of such products on the recipient could be life-threatening.

The recipient’s circumstances (e.g., immune status and presence of undetected antibodies to untested factors of the donor) could cause the recipient to undergo a mild to serious transfusion reaction. While we recommend crossmatching prior to transfusion of red cells, a "match" does not completely remove the risk of an immune response and the destruction of red cells. Plasma MAY contain red cells and platelets.

Veterinarians who have ordered products are ultimately responsible for the wise handling and use of the products. Clinical vigilance is the best assurance your patients will be safe.

Product insert(s) are not intended to be a written guarantee of the safety of blood and blood components.

Requests for blood products and supplies can be made at any time.
Please call 604-734-5104

The price of blood products does not include shipping or taxes.

Our staff will package products in the correct manner for transport to your facility. You are responsible for choosing and arranging the method of transportation (e.g. courier*, taxi, staff member, owner of recipient).

* We have had good experience with Novex Clean for same day courier service.Vancouver Animal Blood Services is not responsible for damage or deterioration sustained after the product(s) leave 1590 W. 4th Avenue in Vancouver.

VABS will include an invoice with each order. Visa or MasterCard may be used at the time of order or credit card information may be left on file with us. Please contact our staff for more details. If not using a credit card, please remit payment when invoiced.

VABS Blood Typing In-House

Transfusion Supplies:

Fenwal® Straight Type Blood Set
Hemo-nate® Filter
Hemo-tap® Blood Bag Spike


Lanevschi A, Wardrop KJ. Principles of transfusion medicine in small animals. Can Vet J Volume 2001; 42:447-454.

Mathews KA. Blood/Plasma Transfusion. In: Mathews, KA ed. Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Manual. Lifelearn 1996; 28: 1-15

Keywords: Plasma, Transfusion

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