This discussion will focus on blood components commonly available and how to choose the appropriate blood component for the
patient. Literally volumes of information have been written on transfusion medicine. In the essence of time allotted, this
discussion will cover whole blood, packed red blood cells, and plasma. Storage of these blood components, proper handling,
transfusion guidelines, and transfusion reactions will also be covered.
The bygone days of routine whole blood therapy
Gone are the days of hastily collecting blood from the clinic's resident cat or dog and then transfusing whole blood to treat
every need. The need is clear to make the most of valuable resources, which are the donor and the blood itself. To be efficient
the blood must be separated into components and each utilized according to proper indications. There may still be select few
times when the use of whole blood best fits the patient's needs. However, there are inherent risks to blood transfusion and
it is best for the patient to receive only the component(s) truly necessary. A more judicious use of your hospital blood bank
and a possible decrease in owner's costs are additional reasons to use components wisely.
Whole blood (WBD)
Considered a full unit 400-450mls blood from a dog, or 55mls from a cat, is collected using an anticoagulant of CPDA-1 or
ACD-A. This product will contain the red cells and all plasma components, but will not preserve platelets or white blood cells
after aging for more than 4 hours.
Indications and matching. Whole blood contains red blood cells, plasma proteins, coagulation factors, white cells, and platelets. When administered
fresh, it may be appropriate for treatment of hemorrhage with concurrent coagulopathies, although there may not be a clinically
significant amount of platelets transferred. It is the author's opinion that whole blood is most appropriately used when the
changes that occur during packed red blood cell storage are undesirable or when stored blood is not available. Canine matching: Blood from a universal donor (referred to as 1.1negative) should be used unless the recipient has been identified by card
test (DMS Labs, KS) or laboratory method as 1.1positive. If the patient is typed as 1.1positive then blood from a 1.1,4 donor
is utilized. Full cross matching should be performed if the recipient has been previously transfused. A Coombs test should
be performed for any suspected IMHA patient. Feline matching: All recipients must be typed using a card test or lab method. Blood would then be chosen from a corresponding A or B donor.
Full cross matching should be performed if the recipient has been previously transfused.
Contraindications. Or better expressed as reasons not to choose whole blood-
- Most expensive transfusion. Dedicates entire donor usage to treating only one patient.
- Anemia may be tolerated in many cases or treated by promotion of erythropoesis (Epogen).
- Hypovolemia should be treated with other volume expanders (crystalloids, colloids); hypoxemia may be treated with packed red
blood cells and oxygen supplementation.
- In cases of coagulopathies- other components (fresh frozen plasma) will provide coag factors, platelet release may be encouraged
- Administration of white blood cells can lead to a fever response.
- Stored whole blood may build up of potassium which may lead to hyperkalemia in certain canine breeds-Akitas, Sheba Inus.
Administration. Transfuse whole blood slowly for the first 15 minutes and monitor for anaphylaxis. Body temperature, heart rate, respiratory
rate, and patient demeanor should monitored at 0, 2, 5, 10, and 15 minutes. The rate may then be increased as quickly as tolerated
by the patient. Additional monitoring at every half hour and hour mark should be taken until the unit is finished. Cardiac
patients may not tolerate sudden volume expansion. The complete blood transfusion should be finished within 4 hours to provide
viable platelets and to avoid bacterial growth. A blood administration set with in-line blood filter (170-260 microns) should
be used to avoid fibrin clots.
Storage, handling and expiration. Donor PCV will vary according to cat or dog blood. 1-6 degrees Celsius; room temperature if platelets are desired. Platelets
are not viable after 4 hours or upon refrigeration. Coagulation factors are not viable after 8 hours of collection. Red blood
cells are viable for 21 days storage. Stored units of whole blood should be warmed to 37 degrees if time allows before administration.
Immunologic hemolytic transfusion reaction: Red blood cell antigen mismatch can lead to acute or delayed transfusion reactions. In the dog, DEA 1.1 mismatches lead to
acute reactions; and other DEA mismatches lead to delayed transfusion reactions. In the cat, acute reactions occur with mismatches
between Type A and Type B blood. Acute reactions may be fatal and occur immediately or up to 24hrs. Signs may include shock,
fever, dyspnea, DIC, hemoglobinuria, hemoglobinemia, hyperbilirubinemia, renal failure, chills, pain. Delayed reactions are
not typically fatal and may occur 4-14 days later. Signs may include continued anemia, fever, hemoglobinuria, and hyper-bilirubinemia.
Non-immunologic hemolytic transfusion reaction: The signs are the same as noted above but may be caused by-bacterial contamination, processes within IMHA recipients, concurrent
administration of hypotonic fluids with blood, or other mechanical lysis.
Allergic reactions: Urticaria, wheezing, angioedematous reactions, broncho spasm, dyspnea, and pulmonary edema. Four types of allergic reactions
are recognized; with type 1 described above being the most commonly seen.
Alloimmunization (sensitization) of recipient: Red blood cell antigens promote the strongest immunogenic response. Mismatches lead to antibody production and to sensitization
of the patient to future transfusions. Careful blood typing and cross matching will help to avoid sensitization to antibodies.
Circulatory overload: May occur with cardiac patients or fluid challenged patients. Evaluate fluid load carefully and monitor central venous pressure.
Pulmonary thromboembolism: Signs may include very rapid respirations, dyspnea, cyanosis, pulmonary edema, pleural effusion. An in-line blood filter
should always be used during administration.
Infectious disease transmission: Thorough screening of donor pool must be employed to avoid FIV, FeLV, Babesia, Ehrlichia, Leishmaniasis, Mycoplasma, and
Bacterial contamination: Aseptic collection and processing of blood is crucial.
Citrate toxicity: Transfusion of multiple units or liver disease may lead to citrate toxicity. Citrate binds with calcium which can lead to
hypocalcemia. Signs may include tremors, seizures, and arrhythmias.