Couple Spends More Than $16,000 For Cat’s Kidney Transplant

Andre Gonciar and his wife didn't hesitate to spend their savings on a kidney transplant if it meant making their cat, Oki, healthy again.

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Oki, recovering from his $16,000 kidney transplant. Via CBS News
Oki, recovering from his $16,000 kidney transplant. Via CBS News

What would you do to save your pet’s life? One family was willing to shell out thousands from their savings to save their cat.

Andre Gonciar and his wife had set aside several thousand dollars in the hopes that eventually they could use it to put a down payment on a house, CBS News reports. But that was before their cat, Oki, got sick.

When the 12-year-old cat was diagnosed with kidney failure, the couple didn’t hesitate to pull $16,000 from their savings to cover the cost of a transplant. Yes, 16 grand for an operation that doctors estimate could give the cat another three years to live, at best. Is it worth it? To pet owners like the Gonciars, that’s not even a question worth answering.

“Well I would tell [people who ask about the cost] to look at their child or their mother and ask themselves the same question,” Andre told CBS News.

Oki’s kidney transplant was performed at the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Hospital and that five-figure price tag didn’t include transportation from Buffalo, New York, the cost of hotels or meals, medical tests or follow-up care after the surgery. Andre hopes that the total cost won’t exceed $30,000. But again, how do you put a price on the 12 years the two have had together — ever since Andre found the kitten struggling to survive in a creek in Romania?

"Wait, I'm donating what?" Cherry Garcia, Oki's kidney donor. Via CBS News

“Wait, I’m donating what?” Cherry Garcia, Oki’s kidney donor. Via CBS News

The kidney donor for the surgery was a shelter cat named Cherry Garcia, and the Gonciars have agreed to adopt him, too. Hopefully Cherry will have a long, healthy — and less expensive — life ahead of him.

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  • Notice that our little Oki only has two legs!!! He lost his back legs as a kitten. He fought long and hard through terrible adversity and incredible pain for the right to love and be loved, to be happy and safe. He is a warrior!!! The least we can do was to fight alongside with him, love him and care for him. He is truly an inspiration. Our little Oki has earned our everlasting love and respect. When I caress his beautiful white fur and stare deeply into his amazing black eyes I feel privileged to commune with a tiger.

    PS. Cherry, the donor, will be loved unconditionally and cared for his entire long and happy life. He’s just doing great 🙂

    (please support our Save Oki campaign at: http://www.gofundme.com/save_oki )

    Andre August 20, 2015 4:09 am Reply
  • Was it successful? I was going to have this done for my baby, Ninza, but he died before we could transport him.

    I hope your cat lives a long life with you.

    Ashtin August 25, 2015 3:28 pm Reply
    • So sorry for your loss. I hope you find peace. I’m hopeful that the rainbow bridge is a real thing and I’ll see my precious Sassy and Callie again.

      janet August 25, 2015 4:58 pm Reply
      • It didnt say the cat didnt survive .. how could you say that and not know!!!

        Barbara August 25, 2015 6:49 pm Reply
        • They were responding to Ashtin’s comment. Ashtin’s can died before they could have it done.

          Sheryl August 25, 2015 8:26 pm Reply
  • YES, IT WAS WORTH IT! I AM SPENDING THOUSANDS ON MY DOG FOR CHEMOTHERAPY. IT MEANS I MAY HAVE TO DO WITH OUT OTHER THINGS, BIUY I HAVE NO REGRETS! ENJOY YOUR CAT AND I HOPE ALL GOES WELL. YOU ARE GOOD PEOPLE.

    JOYCE August 25, 2015 4:07 pm Reply
    • How is he doing? My cat Dorrie died from cancer two yrs ago. Im still greaving

      Colleen August 26, 2015 6:34 am Reply
  • I would give every thing I have for my animals they are worth every cent you give to keep them healthy and happy My animals are what keeps me alive <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

    Loretta August 25, 2015 4:43 pm Reply
  • No matter what anyone’s opinion might be, ultimately, it’s their money and their decision. I hope all goes well for them and their sweet cat and all the haters and naysayers keep their opinions to themselves.

    Cyndy August 25, 2015 5:00 pm Reply
  • Animal are part of our life I hope everything are good now for your cats bless all animal in this earth but sometimes some evil human still out there abuse all animal in this world special in Asia they kill the Cats & Dogs for eat & sell it I hope this people are punish it God always watching this Evil human.

    Norena Lodwick August 25, 2015 5:09 pm Reply
    • Yummy cats

      John August 26, 2015 10:18 pm Reply
  • Our cat, Bailey, age 17 1/2 who acts a lot younger, has severe IBS and of course I’d pay $16,000.00 to cure him. He is doing great on his steroids, chemo( chicken flavored in liquids) and his appetite stimulant with valium.

    linda August 25, 2015 6:41 pm Reply
  • How is Oki doing? Please keep us updated. I hope the best for your furbaby.

    Jan August 25, 2015 7:53 pm Reply
  • Our 9 year old Silver Persian has a heart murmur, kidney disease. Making decisions that are expensive and life and death is heart wrenching. We now are facing a $ 500.00 ultrasound and then chemotherapy. She now has modules on her kidneys.

    Connie August 25, 2015 7:54 pm Reply
  • For the moment, Oki and Cherry are doing great. They are happy, healthy and loved. Oki’s care is quite challenging for now, both in terms of time, logistics and money… but slowly, the risks of a collapse are getting smaller and smaller. We treasure every moment we have with them!!!

    Andre August 25, 2015 8:12 pm Reply
    • Hoping & praying for both of your kitties. Sounds like things will get a bit better every day. I would do the exact same thing. I am sure you will never regret all you are doing. My 16 1/2 year old angel cat , is being treated for lymphoma. Between savings and loans , we are getting through it and he is headed toward remission. He is happy and loving.i am so grateful, for however much longer we have together , and have the peace of knowing I have done everything I possible could for him. And I know that is how you must feel too. Best wishes .

      Karen August 26, 2015 10:43 pm Reply
  • Best wishes to you and your Babies. I would do the same thing. God bless you for having loving and generous hearts!

    Beth August 25, 2015 10:46 pm Reply
  • Humans love their pets. They are like members of the family. It is a personal decision whether to go ahead with costly surgery, or have the animal euthanized.

    Karen Pottruff August 26, 2015 12:56 pm Reply
  • I spent on my cat raphie 4500 for him to be unblocked and then had to have his penis amputated due to the damage they caused. He currently had DCM and I spend hundreds each month on mess, 1500 every 6 months on the Eco, and 450 every 3 months for the blood test to check his enzymes and the hormone the enlarged heart excretes

    Shannon August 26, 2015 5:23 pm Reply
  • We said goodbye to our little cocker a year and a half ago. It truly broke my heart but I remember she did not want to go into the vets but she really maybe had another week. I was crushed and will always remember her kisses. Thinking about it still crushes my heart. I now wear a paw print behind my ear in memory. She was my special Furbaby.

    Kat Black-Hutton August 26, 2015 5:34 pm Reply
  • wonder if pet insurance would have covered this?

    Deb White August 27, 2015 4:59 pm Reply

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