Equine Blood Donors
The EMC maintains a small herd of equine blood donors who have collectively donated more than 1,000 liters of blood in critical care situations. These horses live on our property and are well cared for by our faculty and staff.
Blood transfusion is a potentially life-saving procedure for horses suffering from hemorrhagic shock resulting from trauma, laceration, or hemolytic crisis. There is no substitute for whole blood in these circumstances. Whole blood replaces the lost red blood cells and provides protein, clotting factors, and platelets. Horses have a large, contractile spleen, so fairly large volumes of blood can be removed from healthy donors with no negative consequences. The procedure is simple and straightforward, requiring only the placement of a jugular catheter.
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Meet our Blood Donors
Our boys live in a 20-acre field and are well spoiled to ensure that they come when called anytime of the day or night. They have many human friends and receive the best possible veterinary care.
Rabo, a black Percheron gelding born in 1993, was donated to the EMC in 2010 by the US Army. He served in their Caisson Unit for several years until his retirement in 2010. He has donated 27 liters of blood to date. He is our newest addition and fits in very well with the other boys.
- Patients that commonly require tranfusions are those with hemorrhage into the abdomen from a foaling-related tear or a fall or kick. Those bleeds often cannot be repaired by surgery, so supportive care and transfusions are the most common treatment.
- Patients with red maple leaf toxicity, lacerations with substantial blood loss, anemia, or clotting disorders may also require transfusions.
- As with humans, horses have multiple blood types. Prior to every transfusion, Mac, Jerry, and Rabo are cross-matched with patients to ensure that their blood does not react adversely with patients' blood.
- Our blood donors are routinely examined to make sure they are healthy. Their blood is collected as needed, but not more than once per month.