Couple Spends $16,000 for Cat Kidney Transplant and Sacrifices Down Payment on a Home

What would you do when faced with a major cat treatment decision, which could cost thousands of dollars? For one couple, the answer was easy.

When Oki the cat was a kitten, he was found near-death in a creek in Romania by Andre Gonciar. Since then, Oki has lived a life full of love with Gonciar and his wife; but their happy tale has recently encountered a road block. Now 12 years old, Oki has used up his nine lives, and been diagnosed with kidney failure. While many would make the decision to try treatment, Gonciar has taken things one step further: a kidney transplant.

The surgery itself, completed at the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Hospital, cost $16,000, with additional amounts for airfare, follow-up appointments, medical tests, and hotels. Although the price is hefty, and has drawn criticism and confusion from many, Gonciar is willing to do anything it takes to save Oki’s life – and has no problems explaining his reasons.

“He’s a fighter,” Gonciar told CBS News about the cat who got the kidney transplant. “I would tell [critics] to look at their child or their mother and ask themselves the same question.”

Though Gonciar hopes that the final bill doesn’t top $30,000, money which he and his wife had set aside as a down payment for a house, he is optimistic that the surgery will allow Oki a few more years to live – alongside them, and their newest family member, Cherry Garcia.

You see, Oki’s healthy kidney didn’t just appear out of thin air. Cherry Garcia was a shelter cat set for euthanization when he was handpicked to be a kidney donor for Oki. The deal? Oki, as the receiver of the kidney, would have to adopt Cherry Garcia, the donor. An agreement Gonciar was only too happy to make.

“This little kitten (Cherry) has given Oki the gift of life,” said Gonciar. “We owe him thanks for that.”

Oki and Cherry Garcia are both doing well since the surgery, already forming a strong bond with one another. 

How’s that for a happy ending?

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