This month, the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) celebrated a milestone as the Blood Donor team collected its 500th stored feline blood donation. Donated by Malcolm, a nine-year-old rescued domestic shorthair cat, the day before World Blood Donor Day, this collection marked his ninth donation, which created a unit of stored feline packed red blood cells and a unit of stored feline fresh frozen plasma.
The RVC’s blood donor programme was established in 2004, however, blood donations from cats were, at this time, only undertaken by open collection. This meant collections were unable to be stored and feline donors were required to be ‘on call’, donating on an ‘as needed’ basis. In December 2014, Charlotte Russo, the RVC’s Head Nurse of Transfusion Medicine, developed a closed feline blood collection system, enabling units of feline packed red blood cells and units of feline plasma to be stored for future use.
While open collections are still used when required, this closed collection system revolutionised the RVC’s transfusion service and blood product availability for cats, with feline blood cells stored for up to five weeks and feline plasma stored for up to five years. This in turn, also immediately alleviated pressure from the blood donation programme and its generous donors.
Additionally, the RVC is the first and only veterinary centre in the UK with a dedicated veterinary transfusion medicine service and the only organisation that has stored feline blood products currently in the UK. Feline blood product transfusions also reached an annual record this year, with 135 feline transfusions over the last 12 months.
Charlotte Russo, Head of Transfusion Medicine Nurse at the RVC, explained:
“Our entire team is celebrating this amazing achievement, which of course wouldn’t be possible without our generous donors and their owners.
“The RVC has pioneered feline blood donations in the UK, not only in terms of collection systems but also in ensuring the best possible environment for our donors. The transfusion medicine nurses have worked so hard to create the ideal setting for our cats as more than 95% of our feline donations are done without any sedation. Their health and wellbeing is always our top priority and so we are incredibly proud not only of our feline donors but also of the calibre of our service which has enabled us to reach this amazing milestone.”
Ilaria Vercesi, Neurology and Rehability RVN at the RVC, and owner of Malcolm, said:
“Malcolm first enrolled on the blood donor program two years ago and has since donated nine times. I am enormously proud of his contribution to helping other cats.
“The Blood Donor team is incredible with Malcolm, ensuring every donation is as quick and stress free as possible. The chin tickles and treats he receives afterwards are his absolute favourite and make the entire process very worthwhile."
Each year, those involved in the blood donor programme save and treat hundreds of other pets by donating their blood to be used in operations and procedures at the RVC Queen Mother Hospital for Animals. Since its inception, thanks to the brave feline and canine donors, the RVC’s blood donor programme has helped save thousands of critically ill animals. The RVC blood transfusion team is always looking for more cats and dogs to begin donating and saving lives through the programme. If you think your pet could be an RVC superhero, please contact the RVC Blood Donor team for further information: https://www.rvc.ac.uk/pet-blood-donations
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About the RVC
- The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is the UK's largest and longest established independent veterinary school and is a constituent College of the University of London.
- The RVC is ranked as the world’s number one veterinary school in the QS World University Rankings 2019.
- The RVC offers undergraduate, postgraduate and CPD programmes in veterinary medicine, veterinary nursing and biological sciences.
- The RVC was the first veterinary school in the world to hold full accreditation from AVMA, EAEVE, RCVS and AVBC, and currently holds full accreditation from RCVS, AVBC and AVMA and conditional from EAEVE.
- In 2017, the RVC received a Gold award from the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) – the highest rating a university can receive.
- A research-led institution, the RVC maintained its position as the top veterinary institution in the Research Excellence Framework (2014), with 79% of its submission being rated as world-class or internationally excellent.
- The RVC also provides animal owners and the veterinary profession with access to expert veterinary care and advice through its teaching hospitals: the Beaumont Sainsbury Animal Hospital, in central London, and the Queen Mother Hospital for Animals (Europe's largest small animal referral centre) and Equine Referral Hospital, both located at the Hertfordshire campus.