Animal Health Technology students provide blood transfusion therapy to dogs at the Canadian Animal Blood Bank
By Samantha Don
Red River College teamed up with the Manitoba Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) in 1996 to provide animals with the resources for transfusion therapy. This partnership is now known as the Canadian Animal Blood Bank (CABB) and is run by students in the Animal Health Technology (AHT) program. It operates in the RRC Notre Dame Campus basement.
“This partnership is an example of how RRC works to provide support within the community,” said Isabel Bright, chair of Life Sciences at Red River College.
RRC has given the organization a space in the basement, supplies and resources for their work and a crew of AHT students to help run the organisation.
“CABB was very small to begin with,” said Robyn Maharaj, office administrator and communications manager of CABB. “It has grown and expanded considerably in the 20-plus years of our existence.”
Now supplying blood to veterinary facilities across Canada, the CABB sends about five to eight 525 ml units of blood per day to each facility in Manitoba. The CABB collects solely canine blood, so if any pup should have a disease, require a transfusion or be poisoned, the CABB is there to provide them with the blood they need to recover.
Students in the AHT program are required to volunteer for the organization. These students learn about the process of dealing with owners and dogs, and pre-donation blood work.
“This provides the students with real world experience working with owners and dogs,” said Maharaj. “It gives students an opportunity to get their foot in the door with local clinics … and introduces them to members of the local veterinary community.”
Michael Philippot, 28, former AHT student now working as the laboratory coordinator, volunteered at CABB when he was part of the program. He said that this volunteer time had a great impression on him.
“I’ve always enjoyed working with animals,” said Philippot. “I wanted to try something different from the clinical aspect.”
After graduating in 2011, Philippot started his position at the CABB in 2016.
“In clinic, I got to see what the blood product does and now being here, I get to actually collect it and see what the whole process is for.”
Visit canadiananimalbloodbank.ca to learn more about the CABB and how you can help and donate to the organization.