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Human organ transplants are a well-known idea and are thankfully becoming safer and more successful as time goes on, but many people have not heard about organ transplants for cats.
In early 2003 the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons ( RCVS ) issued guidelines relating to the introduction of the operation within the UK. After many ups and downs, not least on the argument of moral grounds, the operation has started to become established practice here.
Now commonplace in the USA, the UK is catching up and operations can be performed for a few thousand pounds. With improving success rates and increasing acceptance of the moral arguments, many cat owners are starting to see the operation as a real alternative to other invasive treatments such as dialysis or, in extreme cases, euthanasia.
Survival rates in the USA are also improving with the latest figures suggesting that although 40% don't make it to be discharged (i.e. they have fatal complications during the operation), 96% of those who do get discharged live for at least 6 months and over 87% live longer than 3 years from the op. (Figures taken from University of Wisconsin Renal Transplant Center report)
Strict ethical rules must be followed for finding so called 'source animals' in the USA, namely that they must be strays and must be adopted by the owners of the recipients after the operation. No such rules apply in the UK however, and although the RCVS have issued 'guidelines, it seems they are not obligatory.
The moral arguments surrounding this issue are obviously controversial and continue to be debated, let us know what you think at
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