Author Topic: kidney transplant  (Read 984 times)

Offline chevalier

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kidney transplant
« on: June 02, 2016, 10:50:44 AM »
I've been asked to repost this saga from another cat forum for any of you faced with a cat with kidney disease and not wanting to give up. If you love your cat more than money, you might consider this.  It won't be easy but nothing worthwhile ever is.

(April 11, 2016)We have a wonderful fawn Abyssinian with chronic renal failure. It won't be easy financially but we have made the decision to get him a transplant and the Univ of Georgia vet hospital at Athens seems like the best choice as they are the only facility in the world so far to use a revolutionary stem cell procedure to aid in retention of the donor kidney and reduce the possibility of rejection.

My problem is we live in the Cleveland area and it's an all day drive. I was planning to get a motel room and stay the whole three weeks or so until he is discharged in order to visit him daily to encourage him and let him know I haven't abandoned him; he has been with us over seven years now. How-ever, apparently there is a school of thought that to do so hurts the cat as it thinks it's going home each time you visit.

I really need feedback on this. What does everyone think? Have you had a similar experience? If there are any vets or pet psychologists on here I would especially value your opinions also. It's an extra expense, I would have to leave my wife to take care of two other cats who don't get along and have to be kept separated, and if it is detrimental to the cat I will just come back when he's ready to be discharged. I don't want to do it just because it makes me feel better- the cat is the important one here.

One more consideration- we have not left our cats overnight in the seven years this cat has been with us. One of us has always been with them except for day trips.

Thanks for all opinions.
Bill in Cleveland

(from Acerit):
I think visiting daily is very important. Each time you come, you reinforce that you will be coming again. It gives hope.

Leave something you have slept with next to your skin, each time, also. Just a bit of towel or blanket. Nothing you want to keep.

Good luck to your precious boy.
__________________

April 13th:
Thanks so much for your opinion. I hope to get a majority saying this so I don't get the feeling I am hurting him every time I visit and leave. Hopefully some people who have gone through operations with long admissions like this with their cats in the past can let me know what they think based on their experiences. It seems to me three weeks is too long to leave him when he has not been unattended in the seven years we have been lucky enough to have him.
Best,
Bill in Cleveland

late April:
I decided with a little reinforcement that it would do my cat a lot of good to see me every day while he is in such strange surroundings, knowing his temperament. He has been with us since December 2008 and this experience (even the trip because he hates just the half hour interstate drive to see his internal specialist crosstown) is going to be a major upset to him. So I'm going to do what I can for him while he's inpatient.

Leaving for Georgia Sunday morning and his transplant will be Wednesday. This is an extremely competent surgeon and hospital, but your prayers for him will be appreciated. We'll be there at least through the 11th- I'll post after we get back to let you know how it went.

Best,
Bill in Cleveland

mid-May (Buffy and I arrived in Athens May 1sdt and we left for ome the 12th):

continued nextr post- over size limit

Offline chevalier

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Re: kidney transplant
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2016, 10:51:21 AM »
(Mark Best Answer) broke on through to the other side
Just spent ten days in Athens, Georgia at the University Veterinary Teaching Hospital where our Abyssinian Buffy received a kidney transplant to save his life. It was quite an experience and cost ms some $16,000 I don't have (thank God for home equity lines of credit) but the little guy is a big part of our life and is just too young to die. An amazing younger surgeon, Dr Chad Schmiedt, did the operation and we adopted the donor cat, a lovable young rascal named Chadwick (after Dr. Schmiedt) as is a customary part of kidney donor arrangements. The U of GA is the absolute best place for feline renal transplants because they use a revolutionary stem cell procedure that aids in retention, the only facility in the world to do it so far. So that's where Buffy was going- not Wisconsin or Pennsylvania. He needed the best chance and I got it for him.

While he was in I visited Buffy twice a day before the operation and once a day the following weekend when visiting hours were mornings only and the last few days till he got out. I am glad I did that rather than just dropping him off and coming back for him ten days later (the route was aggravating enough I am doubly glad I didn't make two trips, one to take the donor cat home as he was discharged earlier) because he was really lost and lonely after being with us seven and a half years. I didn't want him to think we'd gotten rid of him and just give up and die. He was so glad to see me it was well worth while driving the 30 miles each way daily.

Georgia wasn't much different from Cleveland- Athens was an interesting town but I was always getting lost- I stayed at the closest decent reasonable motel according to the online ratings, a Red Roof 30 miles north at Commerce) and I took advantage of the cuisine we can't get here since White Castle/Church's Chicken pulled out last Christmas. I ate both and also Krystal burgers like they were going out of style. And of course I had car repairs- after dropping $900 to get the Accord ready for the trip I had some sort of oil seal leak which cost me almost another $300 in Georgia. Fortunately I didn't break down and there was a Honda dealer handy which fixed me up without any inconvenience as the car was still driveable.


Buffy and Chad had to stay in their puppy cages until May 19th so they didn't jump or climb and rip their stitches and staples out (which were removed this morning), and Chad still had a cone collar on until the 21st so he can't get at his healing incision. Buffy's back in the general population and I took pity on Chad and let him out that night because he was meowing from loneliness as Buffy was no longer in there with him. So he formally met the other cats (mainly Simba as Sheba doesn't get along with the male cats, but Chad looks enough like her that she might take him for her son).

The drive back was pure hell with two unhappy cats in separate cages, and I don't know how I got both into the car, one in the back seat (I BARELY shoehorned it in) and one in the front passenger seat (hardly got the door closed and the cage was up against the shifter so I had trouble getting into 5th gear and reverse). I got rid of three boxes I'd taken down and packed my stuff and the cat stuff in the two cat carriers I took which saved room but still it was a very tight fit. I had to stop every few hours for them to use the litter box (on the front passenger floor) and get them water and dry food which they mostly didn't eat but spilled in the car (not the water- I wouldn't let them keep that in the cages). But we made it. It was an experience.

But the relief is great after a few years of worsening condition (he was diagnosed in 2011), increasing medications and internal specialist bills (he was taking nine prescriptions just before the operation and I was giving him subcutaneous lactating Ringers electrolyte injections daily the last few months after every other day for a few years) and getting him qualified for the operation; he has a slight heart murmur and a cardiologist had to sign off on his ability to undergo anesthesia). It all paid off and he's running around glad to be back in his home.

After we lost two cats to kidney disease I wasn't letting it take this cat. We had him twice as long as the first, and the second was a rescue cat but it's heartbreaking when you can't save them. This time I had the means (or the credit).
I want to thank you all for your opinions and I'm so glad I stayed for him. He was so comforted to see me every time I showed up, twice a day the first week then once from the weekend on when there's only morning visitation through Wednesday the 11th when he was discharged. He's pickling up weight and I'm being VERY careful with his meds, the most critical of which (cyclosporine which he has to be on the rest of his life and it can't be put in his food but down his throat in a capsule twice a day because the taste is so bitter. He has to be rechecked weekly for this first month then biweekly for a few, then every 2-3 months. Dr. Schmiedt told me that the longest lived transplant cat has been four years (still alive) and we're going to beat that!!

Thanks again you all,
Bill in Cleveland

Offline Middle Child

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Re: kidney transplant
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2016, 05:09:22 AM »
Hi Bill, thanks for sharing your story!  How are Chad and Buffy doing now?  How often will they have to have their kidney values checked? 

There's been no rejection of the transplant from Chad's body?  Does he have to take any medication?

Has Buffy settled in to her new home?

What are you feeding them now?

Offline chevalier

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Re: kidney transplant
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2016, 09:55:14 AM »
Yes, Buffy had a rejection episode last week.  Our specialist after seeing his tests from the week before told me to get him right in last Monday and he was admitted.  Cost me $3430 for either 4 or 5 days depending how they figure it before I got him back Friday evening for IV, transfusions, meds, tests, et al.  He's fine now- eating and happy.  And the Chadster is roaring around like a furry four legged train wreck, enjoying the first real home he's had after a research facility in NY which sold him to the U of GA vet hospital.

Here's what Buffy's surgeon Dr. Chad Schmiedt at the U of GA vet teaching hospital had to say when notified of Buffy's rejection episode:

"The good news is that this can be reversed and not negatively impact long term outcome.  Early, rapid, and aggressive therapy will help with this.  I will continue to follow this very closely."

and in reply  to my questions on rejection episodes:

"My perspective is that the rejection episode was caught early enough that I think minimal permanent damage was done. 

I don't have data from the recent cats, although I would say I know several have had rejection reactions and have gone on to not have another and live 'normal' lives.  In the cats we reviewed from UW (whose protocols I follow), we documented rejection in 8 cats, 2 cats did not respond to therapy for the reactions and were euthanized.  the other 6 cats went on to die of other causes with a median survival similar to if they had not had a rejection.

So if you look at the data, I would be optimistic.  That said, every cat is different and, unfortunately, veterinary care is expensive."

Dr. Schmiedt mentioned  UW (Univ of Wisconsin) as he did his first kidney transplants there before moving to the U of GA Athens.
This is the doctor and vet hospital you want if you decide to save your cat with a renal transplant!

Yes, he is taking cyclosporine which is the antirejection med and prednisolone, as well as clindamycin for toxiplasmosis- all of which he will have to take the rest of his life- but that's better thana the eight prescriptions he was having to take before the operation as well as daily lactating Ringers electrolytes- which we both hated..

Best,
Bill in Cleveland
« Last Edit: June 05, 2016, 09:59:49 AM by chevalier »

Offline chevalier

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Re: kidney transplant
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2016, 06:25:06 AM »
BTW,  on the benefits of pet insurance- I'm facing $22,000 in medical bills here and don't have it- I had to open a home equity line of credit which at least I will have ten years to pay off at low savings bank interest. But I can't find the post. I thought it might have been moved to the cat insurance section but I went through all four pages and it wasn't there. Consumer Reports did an article and survey on three pet insurance companies in their May issue and it's worth getting hold of. They only recommend one insuror- Healthy Paws- as worth it in what you get back.

Best,
Bill in Cleveland

Offline Lola

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Re: kidney transplant
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2016, 09:12:51 AM »
WOW... what a story!!!
I had no idea kidney transplants were even possible for cats. 
Is raw food an option after a kidney transplant, or just canned food?

PS
We love furkid pictures, so feel free to share.  :)

Everything you NEED to know about caring for your feline. www.catinfo.org

Offline Middle Child

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Re: kidney transplant
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2016, 09:37:13 AM »
BTW,  on the benefits of pet insurance- I'm facing $22,000 in medical bills here and don't have it- I had to open a home equity line of credit which at least I will have ten years to pay off at low savings bank interest. But I can't find the post. I thought it might have been moved to the cat insurance section but I went through all four pages and it wasn't there. Consumer Reports did an article and survey on three pet insurance companies in their May issue and it's worth getting hold of. They only recommend one insuror- Healthy Paws- as worth it in what you get back.

Best,
Bill in Cleveland

Bill you may be able to insure your other cats, but most of these insurance companies have pre-existing clause and Buffy and Chad are unlikely to be insurable.

Anyway, thank you for the updates and I am glad your swift action prevented a permanent rejection or more drastic consequence.

So it's been almost 2 weeks since then how are they doing now?

Yes! Pictures would be great and also I am wondering about their diets. You know it is crucial that Buffy and Chad be on all wet diets now. All your cats will benefit from that (if they aren't already) of course, but those two especially.  We can help you transition if needed.


Offline Pookie

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Re: kidney transplant
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2016, 12:15:12 PM »
Yes! Pictures would be great and also I am wondering about their diets. You know it is crucial that Buffy and Chad be on all wet diets now. All your cats will benefit from that (if they aren't already) of course, but those two especially.  We can help you transition if needed.

What MC said, both about the pics and the diet.   :)
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