Dog blood donors needed to help heart surgery patients

Nessie, a retired greyhound who has given blood at Dick White Referrals

Nessie, a retired greyhound who has given blood at Dick White Referrals to be used in two heart surgery procedures. - Credit: Dick White

An animal hospital in Cambridgeshire is looking for dog blood donors to help pets undergoing lifesaving heart surgery. 

Dick White Referrals (DWR) in Six Mile Bottom is one of just a handful of centres worldwide which performs heart surgery on dogs. 

It launched its heart surgery service in October last year and has carried out 14 operations over the past nine months. 

To enable these operations to go ahead, DWN needs to have canine donors with a matching blood type on standby ready to give blood shortly after the surgery takes place. 

One of the donors who gives blood at DWR is Nessie, a four-year-old retired greyhound who lives in Ely with her owner Egle Juzenaite. 

“It’s lovely to see Nessie helping other dogs. I had heard through other retired greyhound owners online that as a breed they are good candidates to be blood donors, so I was looking for somewhere for her to give blood,” said Egle. 

“Nessie has donated for two surgeries so far and been a standby for a third. 

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“After one of the surgeries, DWR sent me a video of the dog who received Nessie’s blood afterwards – watching it was a great moment.” 

To be a good candidate for a canine blood donor, dogs must be fit and healthy, aged between one and eight-years-old and weigh more than 18kg. 

They must not have received a blood transfusion themselves, be on any medication, have travelled outside the UK or Ireland or be an imported animal. 

They also need to be up-to-date with their annual vaccinations and their worming and flea treatment, and be comfortable and relaxed with people. 

Craig Bailey, cardiothoracic nurse at DWR, said: “Donating blood is such a selfless act. For a dog owner to allow their beloved pet to do it and for a dog to allow us to take a donation is amazing. 

“Some of the donors have been able to meet the patient who received their blood during surgery, and it’s so rewarding for the owners to hear that their dog’s donation meant we could help another dog.” 

To find out more about the blood donor programme and whether your dog could be a suitable donor, email blooddonor@dwr.co.uk.