Taiwan's First Animal Blood Transfusion Center Patching Things Up?

Taiwan's First Animal Blood Transfusion Center Patching Things Up?
Photo Credit: AP/達志影像

What you need to know

The first animal blood transfusion center in Taiwan is officially in business, but will it be able to help all animals in need?

National Pingtung University of Science and Technology has established the first animal blood donation center and blood bank in Taiwan.

Tsai Yi-lun (蔡宜倫), an assistant professor at the university who heads the center, told the The News Lens International that a close evaluation of the nation's animal healthcare system had made it clear there was a need for such an establishment in Taiwan.

The Veterinary Transfusion Medicine Center is based on the pet blood banks at the University of California, Davis and Thailand's Kasetsart University. Plans for the center started in 2013.

“We hope to continue working with similar institutions in other countries once the center is operating more steadily,” Tsai says.

The center is currently focusing on canine blood donations and transfusions. Dogs between the age of one and eight weighing more than 20kg and have received regular vaccinations and deworming are elgible donors.

“We have the equipment and control mechanism ready, but now we need healthy blood donors and to communicate with pet owners to make them believe their pets can donate blood,” says Tsai.

Tsai says that after the blood transfusion system for dogs has stabilized, the center will turn its focus to cats, due to their large numbers in Taiwan.

“Blood transfusion for dogs and cats are two completely different systems, but the lab work is similar,” says Tsai. “Cats generally need to be lightly sedated for 30 minutes to an hour, but dogs don’t necessarily have to be.”

Aside from encourging owners to bring in their pets to donate blood, the price for blood transfusions is the most pressing issue for the center at the moment. Tsai says the center “emphasizes providing a service rather than making money, but needs a certain amount of funds to ensure the quality of their service.”

The center is in the process of evaluating prices, but will try to come up with acceptable fees for pet owners.

Future developments for the center include platelet and stem cell research, as well as mobile animal blood donation vehicles.

Collaboration with animal shelters?

Tsai says that although the center will consider working with animal shelters, chances that this will happen are not high because the blood of stray dogs isn't usually healthy enough to be donated.

However Yen Hsin-chuan (顏杏娟), director of Taiwan Dogs Lover Association, looks forward to working with the center.

Yen told The News Lens that shelters can provide the dogs to donate blood while the university can provide the medical care.

“The blood bank is bound to work with shelters because shelters have the largest numbers of dogs,” says Yen. “But the health of the dogs depends on the condition at each shelter, so there might be a difference in the quality of blood that shelters can provide.”

Yen also draws on the idea of a blood profile database for dogs, saying this would help the center with matching blood types and medical care.

“The blood bank should be very helpful for animal healthcare in Taiwan,” says Yen. “But a lot of supplementary measures and procedures need to be refined because it’s a brand new institution.”

Liang Yuan-ling and Lee Bing-shen contributed to this article.