IndyVet animal blood bank in critical need of donors in wake of shortage

IndyVet Emergency & Specialty Hospital needs at least 50 cats and dogs throughout Central Indiana to enroll in its blood donor program in order to fulfill incoming orders for emergency blood transfusions.

IndyVet, located on Indy’s southeast side, supplies blood to around 300 veterinary hospitals locally and across the country for animals suffering from trauma, anemia or bleeding from accidents like rat poisoning. But as of lately, the blood donor program has had at least 10 veterinary hospitals on a back order list.

Once donors retire out of the program, IndyVet has to replace that blood supply. “People support the cause, but getting them to commit has been a struggle,” said Amy McKamey, IndyVet’s blood bank manager. “The demand for blood is increasing, while the number of donors is staying flat.”

Once the blood is drawn from the animal, it’s immediately shipped out, so there is no available inventory on any given day at the hospital. Then from there, the blood expires after 42 days.

To become a blood donor, animals must meet the following requirements:

-Be between 1-8 years old

-Minimum weight of 35 pounds for dogs, and nine pounds for cats

-In good general health and current on all vaccinations (proof required)

-Dogs must be taking heartworm preventative medication.

If animals meet these standards, the next step is to schedule an appointment with IndyVet. All donors are tested for blood type, and must pass physical and behavioral tests, in addition to a comprehensive blood and infectious disease screening.

Once approved, qualified donors will donate blood at least six times a year, but have the option to donate more. Every single donation will help save anywhere from two to four lives. According to McKamey, a dog that’s been a part of the program for a little over four years can contribute up to 25 units of blood, which means that one dog contributed to roughly 100 transfusions.

Breeds such as boxers, pit bulls, mastiffs, greyhounds and American bulldogs generally qualify as universal donors, but McKamey encourages any breed that meets the basic requirements to apply.

“It makes us proud that our boys have helped so many dogs in need with health issues,” said Colleen Yates, who owns an English mastiff and boxer mix that are regular blood donors. “When Angus is finished donating, there’s a bit of cockiness about him like he’s saying, ‘Look what I did!’”

There is no cost to enroll as a blood donor. Instead, the program offers special perks, which can save owners up to hundreds of dollars on annual preventative and wellness care.

Donors receive: free physical and annual exams, yearly blood work, annual vaccines and heartworm testing, along with a 40 percent discount on heartworm and flea medications, and 20 percent discount on emergency and specialty services.

Yates adds that, “the perks you get are nice, but knowing what you did to help others is the true perk!”

For more information on IndyVet’s canine and feline blood donor program, log on, or call 317.782.4484.

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