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Blood banks in veterinary medicine

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In recognition of National Blood Donor Month, Jessie Brown, LVT, blood bank director at Veterinary Emergency Group, and Ken Yagi, MS, RVT, VTS (ECC), (SAIM), chief veterinary nursing officer at Veterinary Emergency Group, discuss animal blood banks

When it comes to pet emergencies, no one expects a situation in which the pet needs surgery to happen. Although there are ways to help pet parents prepare, such as encouraging them to invest in pet insurance, what happens when a pet goes into the surgical suite and there is not enough blood product available at the clinic?

On this week's episode of The Vet Blast Podcast, Jessie Brown, LVT, blood bank director at Veterinary Emergency Group (VEG), and Ken Yagi, MS, RVT, VTS (ECC), (SAIM), Chief Veterinary Nursing Officer for VEG and program director for the RECOVER Initiative joined host Adam Christman, DVM, MBA, to talk about creating an internal blood bank at VEG, and what the donation process looks like.

Below is a partial transcript.

Jessie Brown, LVT: There's a big need for blood products in our industry. I think in the last couple of years, the veterinary industry has really grown, whether that was COVID-driven or not, I'm not sure. But I think people are now evaluating their pets more as like a family member and so they're bringing them more inside and the veterinary industry has felt that. On that spectrum is their blood products. No one ever really thinks about blood until you're in that situation where you need it. And so now in our industry, there's anywhere from 8-20 week wait for one type of blood product. And this blood product expires just about every month. So every month, and that's your red cell blood products, you're having to get these products into your hospital and if you're having to sit on a waiting list, that means a lot of our hospitals are going without.

With VEG we're growing, and we're opening up new hospitals and so it's really hard to heat blood products in our hospitals in an emergency situation, and that's where a lot of your blood usage comes from. And so we just kind of sat back and we're like, how are we going to fix this issue for our hospital systems? And that's [when we decided] we should build a blood bank internally, to help supply all of our hospitals because we have the ability to do that. And so we always want to be able to say yes to our patients and our customers and having products in our fridges and freezers is a way for us to always say yes.

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