Israelis and their dogs donate blood together, in new drive to bolster supplies

Human and canine blood banks in Israel are both in need, and Magen David Adom expects to increase donations if owners and their four-legged friends attend as pair

Nathan Jeffay is The Times of Israel's health and science correspondent

A woman and her dog, after both giving blood, at a human-and-canine donation day. (Moran Baranes)
A woman and her dog, after both giving blood, at a human-and-canine donation day. (Moran Baranes)

Israel’s national transfusion service has teamed up with vets to start running joint human-and-dog blood drives.

The first in what is expected to be a series of collection days was recently held in the town of Kiryat Anavim, west of Jerusalem, and saw a steady stream of dog owners rolling up their sleeves as their four-legged friends gave a donation too.

“We need 1,000 human blood donations a day for Israel, and veterinary services need donations for dogs,” Nadav Metzner of Magen David Adom told The Times of Israel. “So putting the two together is a creative way to mobilize for both.”

Dogs need blood transfusions in certain scenarios, including anemia as a result of disease, surgery, toxicity, or trauma, and canine blood banks are becoming increasingly common.

Magen David Adom, the medical organization that manages Israel’s blood banks, worked with Mechina Kol Ami, a gap year program for Israelis, which organized the pet blood collection with the veterinary medical center Vet Hospital Patients.

Ophir Niv, director of the veterinary center, said that many people are unaware of the need for blood donations from dogs, and don’t know that their dog can help other dogs that need transfusions.

A man and his dog, after both giving blood, at a human-and-canine donation day. (Moran Baranes)

He said that the drive was “important both for raising awareness and for actually saving humans and animals through blood donations.”

Volunteer Merav Ayalon, who helped to organize the first donation day, said that many dog owners are oblivious to the fact that their pets can give blood. “People don’t realize that donations are needed from dogs, and also from cats, there just isn’t the awareness,” said Ayalon, a regular blood donor whose two dogs also donate.

“But it saves lives. People also worry about their dogs when they find out that, unlike humans, they get a small anesthetic, but there’s nothing to worry about

“I think campaigns like this are important to encourage donations to both people and dogs, and to see how both species can help others. This is a smart idea and an important idea”

Yaakov Mohadav, Magen David Adom’s head of blood collection for the Jerusalem region, said: “We believe that this collaboration will generate more blood donations in the future and will allow us to help dogs and humans alike.”

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