The kidney donor should be healthy and free of any infectious or organic disease. Removal of one kidney in an otherwise healthy animal will not result in any kidney related health problems. The remaining kidney in the donor will enlarge and eventually achieve about 75% of the total function of the two kidneys present prior to the organ donation. This is far in excess of the threshold of function required for survival (about 25% is a minimal tolerable level).
The donor may be provided by the client or we will obtain the kidney donor. If we obtain the kidney donor, the client must adopt that cat after the surgery. We have been very pleased with our source of donor cats in terms of the cats winning personalities and degree of socialization. To date, we have had no problems integrating these animals into the clients households and our clients have overall been very happy with the donor cats in their homes as new and joyful pets.
We often have concerns voiced about the recipient cat accepting a new cat into the household. Our experience has been that the cats will work it out and establish their personal boundaries and that this has not been overly stressful for the recipient cat. We have one transplant patient that would never socialize with any other cat in the household but now sleeps together only with the donor cat! Some degree of socializing may be needed when the recipient comes home. However, the donor cats are usually very young, thus, they tend to be pretty adaptable and dont get territorial in the time they are in the clients home before the recipient returns home.
The recipient and donor blood are crossmatched to determine blood compatibility (see RECIPIENT TESTING FOR FELINE RENAL TRANSPLANT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN. We have found some recipients (even males without previous transfusions) to have preformed antibodies to the donor cat blood so this step is mandatory. No other tissue typing is performed.
Preoperative screening of the donor includes complete blood count, serum chemistry panel, urinalysis, and viral testing. An excretory urogram (a dye study to look at the kidney vessels and function) is sometimes done to assure that both donor kidneys are healthy and well vascularized.
When the donor cat is ready we have the recipient cat brought to our hospital for PREOPERATIVE PREPARATION.