Blood Transfusion

Blood Transfusion in Llamas

from book:  Veterinary Techniques in Llamas & Alpaca by Dr. David Anderson

p. 333 - 335 by Meredyth L. Jones

Donated blood should not exceed 20% of the blood volume of the donor which equates to about 1.5 of the donor's body weight.

When the collection and administration volumes are calculated, the donor is restrained in the standing position (preferably in a chute) and the catheter connected to the appropriate receptacle containing anticoagulants.

The container is lowered to the ground and filled by gravity flow.  In the case of commercial blood collection bags, they should be filled until turgid and then rocked to assure proper mixing of the blood and anticoagulant.  Where these bags are not available, any sterile receptacle may be used Sodium citrate is added to the receptacle at a volume to create a 1:9 ratio of sodium citrate : whole blood.

After the desired volume is collected, the bag is attached to a filtered administration set (figure 73.2) and administration to the donor initiated.  The transfusion should begin at a slow rate of 5 mL/kg/hour for the first 15-20 minutes and the recipient monitored for signs of transfusion reaction.  After this time, if no abnormalities are noted, the rate may be increased to 10 mL/kg/hour for the remainder of the transfusion.

In cases where acute hemorrhage is the cause of anemia, the bleeding must be stopped prior to or during the transfusion because the volume expansion will worsen the losses.  In the case of hemolytic (relating to the disintegration of red blood cells) disease, efforts should be made to identify the cause and minimize hemolysis (the breaking down of red blood cells with liberation of hemoglobin) because the average lifespan of transfused red blood cells is limited to 3 to 5 days.  Severe anemia may be recognized during the  examination by inspection of the mucous membranes.  Extreme anemia causes a pale appearance.  Assessment of the anemic patient should include examination of peripheral blood.  This may allow identification of Mycoplasma haemalamae blood cells.

Notes for Collecting Blood From a Llama

High-Neck Jugular Venipuncture of Llama
Do not clip (regrowth of fleece >18 months). Imaginary line from ventral mandible to neck. Palpate sternomandibularis tendon. Occlude vein. Insert 18-20g x 1.5 inch needle 45 degree angle just dorsal and caudal. Decrease chance of inadvertant arterial puncture.

Low-Neck Jugular Venipuncture of Llama
Lower 3rd of neck palpate enlarged transverse processe of 6th cervical vertebra. Jugular lies just medial. Occlude vein. 18-20g x 1.5 inch needle. Thinner skin, better visual, fewer movement problems are advantages.

Use the right jugular vein - not left


The location of the jugular vein on the neck differs from other domestic animals. The jugular vein is separated from the carotid artery for only a short distance near the angle of the jaw. The collection of blood samples or the administration of intravenous medication anywhere along the neck must be done carefully to avoid penetration of the carotid artery. The thickness of the neck skin of the adult male makes it especially difficult to visualize and locate the jugular vein.

Blood Transfusion - Merck Veterinary Manual

Triple J Farms Llama Plasma


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