Animals are also in need of blood donors when faced with serious medical conditions

By Zhang Xinyuan Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/13 18:38:39

Frenzy just got her blood test results back, and her owner was relieved to find that her cat has the most common blood type. Photo: Zhang Xinyuan/GT

After waiting anxiously for an hour, Danijela finally got her 10-year-old cat Frenzy's blood test result back.

"Thank god! Her blood type is A, the most common blood type for cats," said Danijela, who moved to Beijing from Germany five years ago.

Danijela first met Frenzy in an animal shelter. Although she was older and quiet compared to the other cats, Danijela had an instant affection.

"She is the perfect cat; she is always nice, docile and keeps me company," Danijela said.

Two months ago, something was wrong with Frenzy. She was not eating anything, would not move much and her weight dropped rapidly. Frenzy was diagnosed with a tumor and needed surgery.

"In case Frenzy lost too much blood or suffered from an infection after surgery and need a blood transfusion, the doctor suggested I find a blood donor for Frenzy," Danijela said.

"Fortunately, I have another cat - a male cat named Gonzo. I am waiting for the test results to see if their blood types match and if Gonzo is a fit donor," she said.

"Having type-A blood means Frenzy has more of a chance of finding a donor cat."

American-born Chinese Mary Peng, founder of Beijing's International Center for Veterinary Service, said that in her experience, there are at least two incidents a month where they need donated blood for pets.

"In many cases, blood transfusion could save an animals' life," Peng said. "As the pet-care culture in China develops, people are more willing to care for their pet's health, and the need for blood donations and transfusions for animals has grown in the past ten years."

Saved by the blood

Over a year ago, Zhuang Mengying, who works in a media company in Beijing, had a Siamese cat named Crystal who ate a nylon thread from her curtain, which caused the cat's intestines to be entangled by the thread.

Crystal would not eat anything. Her weight dropped from five kilograms to less than three kilograms in just a few days.

After Crystal went through a surgery to remove the nylon thread, she suffered from a bad infection.

"The doctor said that Crystal suffered from blood poisoning and that her body couldn't produce any new blood and she needed a blood transfusion from another healthy cat that has never been sick before, received regular vaccinations and weighs over 5 kilograms," Zhuang recalled.

Crystal's condition was very serious, fortunately, Zhuang's good friend had a domestic short-haired cat that fit all of the doctor's requirements, and Zhuang's friend agreed to provide her cat, a black and white cat named Sherriff, to be a blood donor.

After being tested and finding that their blood types matched, the blood transfusion process began.

"Crystal was very lucky. Sherriff is very strong, and he didn't feel a thing after his blood was drawn. In addition, the doctor said that Sherriff's blood cells were very high, which means his blood is very nutritious," Zhuang recalled.

"When Crystal received half of the blood transfusion, she was already in a better mental state," she said.

After a few days at the vet, Crystal recovered.

"The vet said that Crystal should be renamed as 'the miracle cat,'" she laughed.

Crystal and her owner were lucky that both the recipient and the donor cat had a happy ending. However, sometimes that is not the case, according to Wang Jiani, the manager at a veterinary clinic in Beijing, adding that in many cases, both the donor and recipient could be in danger.

Li Ke from Guangzhou, Guangdong Province has a golden retriever named Yoyo. A year ago, Yoyo was in a car accident and needed a blood transfusion.

She remembered that the situation at that time was urgent, and she did not have time to find a suitable donor from any of her friends who have dogs, so she bought a dog from the dog market. Yoyo recovered from the accident because of the blood transfusion, but the donor dog died later because of blood loss and heart failure.

"I deeply regret that because he was a life too, and he shouldn't have died because of my dog," Li said. "If only blood transfusion for animals were as easy and harmless as they are for humans."

Difficult to find a match

Blood types for pets are more complicated and difficult to match than for humans, according to Peng.

Cats only have two blood types, A and B, and it seems simple but it is still difficult to find matches for some cats.

"Over 95 percent of cats have type-A blood, and the rest have type B," Peng said. "So, if any cat has type-B blood, it would be difficult to find a donor."

For dogs, the situation is even more complicated.

"There are 13 types of blood for dogs, and the blood types are divided into positives and negatives and every blood type needs their own specific match," Peng said. "The wrong blood transfusion could lead to shock and even death."


Many vets that conduct blood transfusions are not up to date with regulations and standardization, which also causes casualties in blood transfusion, according to Peng.

She said that cats receiving blood donations should weigh at least 4 kilograms, and donor cats should be over 20 kilograms, or their bodies cannot endure the blood loss, and the blood donation should be within 10 percent of their blood volume.

She explained that before donating blood, they need to have a body and blood checkup to check if their organs and blood are healthy. If the donors are unhealthy, then their blood donation is lethal to the recipient.

"Most owners and doctors in China just assume that if the blood type matches, they can start the blood transfusion and leave out the organ and blood checkup, which could kill the pets."

The donor animals are also required to receive regular vaccinations and be domestic to ensure that they do not have any infectious or incubated diseases from outside, she added.

However, pets in China have a low vaccination rate.

According to a report by Cankao Xiaoxi on October 2016, only 10 to 20 percent of dogs in China received a rabies vaccination.

In addition, pets can only have a limited number of donors.

"Human donation blood is filtered so it does not repel other donated blood, while animal blood donations are unfiltered, and mixing them could cause the body to reject the blood," Peng said.

Animals blood types' are more complicated than human's and more difficult to match. Photo: VCG

A need for donors

Liu Lang, the executive member of the council of The Chinese Veterinary Medical Association said that blood transfusion for animals are not secure and can be unstable.

"Most animals in need of blood transfusions depend on the random help from other pet owners, or they buy pets from the pet markets.

"Those sources are unstable and have health hazards," Liu said.

According to a report by news portal, in many countries, such as America and Australia, animal blood banks have already been founded. Chinese experts are also calling to build blood banks in China.

However, Liu thinks that there are still many obstacles to found a blood bank in China.

"The need for pet blood transfusions in China is still not high enough," Liu said.

According to the report, the reporter interviewed a clinic in Guangzhou, and the owner said that they have at most 20 cases of blood transfusion per year.

"Drawing blood from animals could also set off animal protection activists in China, so that is also an obstacle," Liu said.

"I hope as things develop, animals can get the help they need," he said.

Newspaper headline: What's your type?


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