Karen Humm (Lecturer in Emergency and Critical Care) has been awarded a grant by Pet Plan for the following project: "Is Cross Matching Beneficial Prior to the First Blood Transfusion in Cats?"
As veterinary practice has advanced, there has been a steady increase in the need for blood transfusions to help cats with a variety of diseases. However, identifying suitable blood donors and obtaining blood from healthy cats in a timely manner is extremely challenging. In situations when a cat has had a previous blood transfusion, it is recommended that prior to any subsequent transfusion a crossmatch screening test is performed. This is how we check that donor blood and patient blood are compatible. If no reaction is seen in this test, the donor is considered suitable and this should decrease the risk of the recipient having a reaction to the blood.
A recent study of cats reported that administration of crossmatch compatible blood transfusions resulted in significantly greater increases in the post-transfusion red blood cell level when compared to administration of non-crossmatched blood (Weltman and others, 2014). This observation led them to suggest that crossmatching may be indicated prior to any feline blood transfusion. Because of the type of the study performed (solely based on previous observations) the results need to be confirmed before changes to clinical practice are made. As the cats in the previous study were not randomly assigned to crossmatched and noncrossmatched groups, a great deal of bias was introduced, thus many questions remain unanswered. Crossmatching all cats prior to a first transfusion would lead to a major change in feline transfusion medicine. It would increase transfusion costs, lead to considerable delays in administering transfusions and decrease blood donor options. Therefore, it is vital that the impact of crossmatching compatibility prior to the first incidence of blood transfusion in cats is investigated.