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Date Posted: 04:56:41 03/04/03 Tue
Author: Lark
Subject: Is *your* pet an Organ Donor? (OT)

Cute Kitty in the picture!

British kitty kidney transplants OK'd
Friday, February 28, 2003 Posted: 5:54 PM EST (2254 GMT)

LONDON, England (Reuters) -- The British, long ridiculed for pampering their pets, can now indulge their cats with a costly kidney transplant.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons said on Friday it has given the go-ahead for the operation after its success in the United States prompted British cat lovers to demand the right to transplants here.

"We are not encouraging transplantation or opposing it but we want to make sure that there are guidelines in place for the profession to be able to follow," Ian Holloway, external relations officer at the College, told Reuters.

The operation will come at a price.

In the United States, cat kidney transplants have cost between $7,000 and $10,000, and vets estimate the cost in Britain at between 8,000 and 10,000 pounds ($12,600 and $15,800).

Even so, the procedure will extend a cat's life by an average of only two years and in most cases the cat will remain on medication for the rest of its life.

The rise of kidney transplants for pets has caused uproar among animal welfare groups who fear the lives of stray moggies will be sacrificed to keep much-loved pets alive.

"We would certainly never accept that an "under-class" of unwanted and stray animals should be considered as a bank of potential sources of organs for transplantation," the Blue Cross welfare group said in a statement.

Others were concerned cats could not express their will or make an informed choice.

"Neither the donor nor the recipient animal is able to make a decision based on the possible long-term health implications of both," The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) said.

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