From Iceland — Akureyri Dog Saves Another Dog's Life With A Blood Donation

Akureyri Dog Saves Another Dog’s Life With A Blood Donation

Published March 20, 2024

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Húgó, a brave dog from Akureyri, rescued a fellow pup last week by donating 400 ml of blood, reports Erin, a black Labrador, was suffering from a severe blood shortage following surgery and Húgó’s owners responded to the emergency call.

The news was published in a Facebook post by the Lögmannshlíð Animal Hospital in Akureyri.

Erin’s health was rapidly deteriorating, requiring major surgery due to an acute infection in her uterus and ruptured blood vessels with significant bleeding into the abdominal cavity.

Húgó’s blood donation saved her life.

Erin is now back home, recovering from surgery.

Blood donations uncommon in the animal world

It is not common to resort to blood donations between animals, according to Elfa Ágústsdóttir, a veterinarian and owner of the Lögmannshlíð Animal Hospital in Akureyri.

“We don’t often perform these procedures on animals,” says Elfa, noting that animals typically don’t need blood transfusions, even though it does happen.

“In this case and similar ones where the animal has lost a significant amount of blood before the procedure is carried out, veterinarians need to contact the dog owner and ask for permission for the dog to donate blood,” she says.

Elfa notes that they don’t have the equipment to store blood like human blood banks, so a donation is carried out on-site, where the blood is collected in a blood collection bag with an anticoagulant, and then almost immediately transferred to the other animal.

“It’s essentially only done on-site by veterinarians,” she says.

Húgó wasn’t sedated during the transfusion. Erin was in such a serious condition that administering a sedative to Húgó posed a risk of it affecting Erin directly through the blood. This was particularly concerning as Erin had just come out of anesthesia and surgery, during which her abdomen had to be opened to remove her uterus and ovaries.

Húgó was a little scared of his first blood donation, but took the procedure well. “He managed to relax and was there gnawing on bones after two minutes. Perhaps the only downside is that you can’t talk to Húgó. We gave him some bones and asked him to forgive us,” Elfa says, laughing.

Erin’s surgery and blood transfusion went well. Elfa says Erin’s condition came somewhat out of the blue, as Erin is only three years old, and it’s uncommon for dogs her age to undergo such a major procedure.

Húgó wasn’t on a donor list — in fact, such a list doesn’t exist for animals in Iceland. But Elfa immediately thought of him, since he’s the pet of a family member and the vet knows him to be a big, healthy boy. A smaller dog wouldn’t be suitable for such a procedure.

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