Sandy may cause surge in need for canine, feline blood
“We’re low because of the need right now,” says Jocelyn Pratt, manager of Blue Ridge Veterinary Blood Bank (BRVBB) in Purcellville, Va. “A lot of the hospitals try to stock up before and after (a natural disaster).”
The storm canceled three of the blood bank’s drives. “The weather was just too bad to come out in,” Pratt says. The BRVBB is located just an hour from Washington, D.C. “We were right in the path of the storm.” The area experienced flooding and power outages, but that hasn’t kept staff from recruitment efforts.
Pratt predicts there will be a surge in need as veterinary hospitals get their power back, assess damage and reopen. With so many power outages, she worries that hospitals’ existing blood supply will spoil. Blood is separated into red blood cells and plasma. The red blood cells must be refrigerated at a very cold temperature and plasma is frozen. If a clinic doesn’t have a generator or can’t quickly transfer it to another location during a situation such as the recent storm, “they’ve lost their blood,” she says.
Pratt says her organization is contacting anyone who has donated blood to them in the last year or two. They’re using social media and e-mail to reach out to people. She hopes veterinarians will encourage clients to donate even if they’re not able to visitone of BRVBB’s 25 locations.
It’s hard to estimate how much canine and feline blood may be needed to replenish supplies after superstorm Sandy. “It’s really hard to predict, but it’s something that’s needed year-round,” Pratt says.
Regardless of natural disaster, BRVBB recruits donors every day, year-round for lifesaving products. “We always need blood,” she says. “As many donors as we can recruit in the tri-state area, we supply the entire country with that.”