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Simcoe’s visit to the transplant doctor

Thursday morning we made the drive up to Santa Rosa to PetCare Veterinary Hospital for an appointment with Clare Gregory, one of the pioneers of kidney transplant procedures in cats and has done over 400 of them. The visit was a consultation to get some of our questions answered about the procedure and to see whether Simcoe’s current status made her a good transplant candidate before investing in further tests. The news was all good, based on her BUN and creatinine levels now and overall health we’re moving forward with the additional tests and hopefully we can keep her healthy enough so she won’t need dialysis prior to the procedure.

Going in we had read the Feline Renal Transplantation Information Sheet on the Pioneers in Veterinary Kidney Transplantation PetCare site, but the chat with Dr. Gregory gave us some specific insight into it all.

The risks of the surgery and the crucial year following tended to boil down to latent infections or cancers which manifest when the animal is in surgery or immunosuppressed or blood clots which may form during or just after surgery. There is also acute rejection which happens pretty quickly and chronic rejection where the remaining immune system that isn’t suppressed with the twice daily suppressant drugs slowly picks away at the new organ, causing the cat to eventually die from kidney failure (this can happen with human transplants too).

As far as quality of life, if she survives the transplant and the first year (about a chance for 90% each) she should go on with a normal life with the exception of medication every 12 hours and the requirement for medical boarding where she’ll be kept away from any possibly infectious animal every time we travel. She’ll be able to eat regular food and the doctor mentioned that some transplant cats even end up overweight because their owners tend to spoil them once they’re healthy again. She’ll also be able to go under sedation and have other procedures done in the future, as long as the operating doctor is familiar with her condition.

She has a couple of vet appointments next week and we’ll take things from there. If everything goes well with the tests we then need to make a decision about the donor cat. Caligula isn’t a great donor candidate because he’s 8 years old and they’d rather use a younger kidney. My mother has a few cats and so we may get a couple of hers tested for compatibility and fly one out if it works out, but one step at a time!

She’s been very active these past several days and eating well. How ever things go we’re very happy to have this time with her!