Two cats are closely bonded best friends now, a year and a half after kidney transplant surgery brought them together.
The pair were in vastly different circumstances before chance and a chain of events brought them together. Arthur, a young flame-point Siamese who was beloved and doted upon by his petparents, was in real danger of an early death from kidney disease. Joey was a former stray who’d become part of the University of Georgia Veterinary School and Hospital’s research program after being at risk for euthanization at a shelter.
Arthur was near death before the surgery and was not a good candidate for a kidney transplant because his body couldn’t absorb an immune suppressant well and would likely reject the new organ. His desperate owners, Tony Lacaria and Frederick Petrick Jr., were refused by both the University of Pennsylvania and University of Wisconsin veterinary hospitals and took a chance that the University of Georgia hospital would help their beloved cat.
“At that point Arthur was very ill. He was dying,” Lacaria told the Athens Banner-Herald, which did a story on Arthur’s transplant. “We got in the car and drove for 10 hours to get to (UGA). We didn’t even know if we would be accepted into UGA’s kidney transplant program. He only had a few weeks to live. We were very upset.”
We shared the story of Arthur’s kidney transplant surgery in our post of June 30, 2014, Cat Gets Second Ever Kidney Transplant with Stem Cells.
Dr. Chad Schmiedt, who heads UGA’s feline kidney transplant program, met with Lacaria and Petrick and suggested using feline adult stem cells to help with immunosuppressive protocol for the transplant. The petparents agreed and the stem cells were grown in the University’s Regenerative Medicine Service laboratory from a chunk of fat harvested from Arthur a week before the May 15, 2014 transplant surgery.
Arthur recovered from his surgery in hours, rather than the weeks typical for most feline kidney transplants. His speedy recovery was attributed to the beneficial effect of the stem cells.
As is the practice with the University of Pennsylvania’s transplant program, UGA’s program requires that the recipient cat’s family adopt the organ donor kitty and give him or her a good home.
A year and half on from the transplant surgery, both Arthur and jory are doing well and have become the best of friends. Even though there are other cats in the home, Arthur and Joey can often be found snuggled up together, as the two new photo here show so beautifully.
Both the Daily Mail and the Express have revisited the story with the followup on the cats’ friendship today.
Arthur, who had lost half his body weight before the transplant, has rebounded back to his former weight and size. He continues to receive immunosupressant drugs and stem cell treatments as part of his long-term care.
Petparents not only need to be able to pay for the transplant surgeries for both cats, but they must demonstrate that they are able to provide continuing followup care.
Chad Schmiedt, associate professor of soft tissue surgery at the University of Georgia, said:
“After surgery, the donor cats must be adopted into the homes of the recipient and the new owners must agree to provide care for the cat for the rest of its life.
“We find, almost without fail, that donor cats easily integrate into their new homes and are quickly loved by their new family.”