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French surgeons perform first kidney transplant to save life of cat

Cat on operating table cat-wow
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Surgeons in Lyon have performed a ground-breaking kidney transplant to save the life of a three-year-old cat. The operation - that saw the collaboration of vets and surgeons - was the first of its kind in France.

By Nick Whittle

Published on the 25/08/2019, 09:00, Updated on the 08/02/2021, 13:42

Tara was a very poorly cat. Diagnosed with end-stage renal failure medics had given her just weeks to live. Writes 20 Minutes, one of the surgeons Sébastien Crouzet said, “The veterinarian near me who I know well contacted me to talk about the case of a cat in terminal renal failure. He was sentenced. In these cases, things go very fast. The death of the animal occurs quickly.”


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Fortunately urologist Crouzet and his veterinary friend had already discussed the likelihood of successfully performing a kidney transplant for a cat. But neither had imagined that a case would present itself so soon.

Cross-matched cats

The donor of Tara’s new kidney would be a cat she already lived with called Sushi. The cats were cross-matched to ensure Tara’s body would not reject Sushi’s “donation”.

Vet Julien Edet told 20 Minutes, “As with humans, a review was done to ensure that this potential donor did not have a particular disease and was compatible.” Fortunately, Sushi proved a positive match, and was scheduled for surgery.


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On May 31st, Crouzet and colleague Ricardo Codas Duarte under the guidance of M. Edet conducted the first feline transplant on French soil.

Cats have very small kidneys,explained Crouzet, “equivalent to those of a six-month-old baby, with very narrow vascular connections. Transplants are in our DNA. We do this often, but not veterinarians. It was great to help them by providing our technical assistance, our surgical know-how."

Recovery ongoing

Despite her lifespan being extended by only 30 months at the most, the operation was deemed a success. And the French team of surgeons hopes that such a procedure will become more commonplace in the future.


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In the United States, organ transplants of animals is not as rare. But a hindrance to its popularity is undoubtedly the cost of the operation. It is estimated that an operation of this type for an uninsured pet would cost its owner in the region of 5,000 Euro (£4520).

It's really not available to everyone,” says Edet. “And today in France, only 10 to 20% of animals are insured. The day this proportion increases, insurance rates will inevitably fall and the amount of support for operations of this type will probably evolve.”