Life-saving transplant for dogs - Philadelphia News

September 4, 2008 9:14:22 PM PDT
Doctors performed a life-saving transplant operation tonight in University City in Philadelphia, but neither the donor nor recipient was human.Kidney transplants in dogs are so rare, only two institutions in the country perform them, the University of Georgia and the facility at Matt J. Ryan Veterinarian Hospital.

About an hour after kidney transplant surgery, Tony, a 14-month-old bull terrier, was doing well and so was her donor sister, Zanzy.

"I'm very worried about my pets; my pets are family to me," dog owner, Jennifer O'Brien said.

O'Brien could not bear to lose her babies as she calls them. Shortly after arriving from South Africa, Tony begins to show signs of kidney failure, O'Brien turned to her last option.

"I just had to try. I know deep down, no matter what happens i am helping other dogs in the long-run," O'Brien said.

She was not always so optimistic, though.

After an exhaustive research, O'Brien learned that University of Pennsylvania doctor Heidi Phillips could perform a kidney transplant. They are rare in dogs because only related dogs could donate a kidney. The surgery went well says Phillips, but the next 48 hours are critical.

"Rejection is certainly important, infection from being immune suppressed and long-term we can see things like diabetes, neoplasia, which is cancer," Dr. Phillips said.

O'Brien is expected to pay $15,000 for this transplant. She hopes that other doctors will know of the option in the future.

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