Please call us to discuss the case before promising anything to your client.
Donors must be generally healthy. Canines ideally should be current on vaccines at least for rabies, distemper, hepatitis, and parvo virus and equines should be vaccinated preferably for rabies and tetanus.
Malignancies, septicemia, bacteremia, autoimmune disorders, ingestion of toxic substances, recent exposure to or history of rabies, distemper, or parvovirus, general unexplained lethargy or malaise.
Animals with acute trauma (including fractures), hip dysplasia, or other bone-involved conditions such as osteochondritis dessicans may be acceptable as bone donors, as long as the condition is not contagious or transmissible. Please call to consult with us.
Canine donors should be less than 10 years.
Equine donors should be less than 25 years.
Canines should be 40+ pounds or greater (at ideal body weight).
Equines should be normal body weight for their age/breed.
We test for transmissible diseases in the same way blood donors are tested. These tests include a CBC and Chemistry Screen as well as PCR tests for Anaplasma, Mycoplasma, Rickettsia, Ehrlichia, Leishmania, Babesia and Bartonella species in canines. Equine screening includes tests for Brucellosis, Potomac Horse Fever (neorickettsia sp.), EVA, an equine respiratory panel for EHV1 & 4, Influenza A, among others, a SHI test (corynebacterium), Babesia sp., EIA (Coggins test), VEE, and a neurologic panel including EEE, WEE, WNV, EHV1, et al.
The owner may bring up their interest in tissue donation or you can bring it up with them if you feel that tissue donation might be an appropriate and helpful option to offer to your client. If their pet appears to be within the criteria described above, we recommend that you give them our donor brochure and information sheet to review. You might inquire: ‘What are their thoughts on organ and tissue donation’ and explain that although organs are not commonly transplanted in pets yet, tissues like bone grafts and tendons and corneas can make enormous differences in the lives of recipients. If they are interested in the possibility of tissue donation and you have any questions about whether they would meet the criteria, PLEASE have someone call us to discuss the case. We would like to be involved as early as possible to answer any questions you or the family may have and to coordinate the recovery. The pet owner(s) should be given the VTS Donor Consent Form to review and sign (form available at the top of this page). We will coordinate with your facility about the best time to arrive at your clinic to collect the donor’s body as well as the blood samples and copy of the medical records.
Therefore, we do not necessarily need to be there at the time of death. This means that the owner can be with their pet at that time if they prefer, and we do not need to disturb them or rush them through their grieving.
This must be performed in your clinic and is part of the interaction between you and the pet owner. At or near the time of euthanasia, please draw 2 red top and 2 lavender top tubes, so we can test for transmissible diseases.
We will normally move the donor to our facility where we have specially designed operating rooms to perform the surgical recovery of the tissue grafts. Although, in some instances it may be possible or preferable to use the operating room facilities at the clinic where the animal is euthanized. In that case, and of course with your permission, we would bring all our own instruments and supplies, and would require use of an operating room for approximately 2 hours.
Typically, we recover the long bones of the limbs, tendons and corneas. Your pet owners may want to know that it is a surgical procedure, but it is performed only after the heart has stopped beating and there is no pain or suffering for their pet.
After tissue recovery, if the owners wish, we can arrange for a private cremation and we will return the ashes in a finished cedar box or urn of their choice. There is no charge to the owners for this. We perform the recovery as soon as possible after asystole within the 12 hour time period, but the cremation process and return of ashes can take up to an additional 1 or 2 weeks. We usually contact the family within a few days of the event to chat with them, answer any questions they might have, ask them questions about the life of their pet to gather some non-medical information, and to give them a chance to tell us about their pet. This transparency answers any lingering questions pet owners may have and gives them an opportunity to take some steps through the grieving process.
We will cover all costs related to tissue recovery and testing for donation.
Thank you for your efforts to assist us and the pets needing transplant grafts.
As a thank you to your clinic for assisting and in honor of our tissue donor we make a charitable contribution to Old Dog Haven who provides final refuge care for dogs.
As a tribute to the life of our tissue donor we also make a donation to the Arbor Day Foundation who plants a tree in one of our National Forests in honor of our donor and their families. They will receive cards or notifications from these organizations.