Woman Spends $19,000 on Kidney Transplant for 17-Year-Old Cat, Adopts Donor Cat

Betsy Boyd holding her cat, Stanley

Betsy Boyd, a 44-year-old woman has proven just how much she adores her feline companion by spending a whopping $19,000 on kidney transplant for her 17-year-old cat, Stanley.

Stanley was in end-stage kidney failure and the veterinarian said the only way to save the black-and-white feline was a kidney transplant. Boyd was also expected to adopt the donor cat as well.

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Betsy Boyd earns only $46,000 annually as a part-time writing professor, but she didn’t waver to pay about $19,000 in transplant-related costs for her cat. Friends reportedly tried discouraging her from spending such huge amount, advising her to instead save it as college fee for her 3-year-old twins, Texas and Miner. Their advices proved abortive.

Boyd tells PEOPLE;

“Stanley loves me as much as any human being has ever loved me and I love him the same way, I want him around.”

Stanley underwent the procedure in November and is now back home in Baltimore, along with the donor cat, Jay, a previously homeless 2-year-old.

“Stan is thriving and I’m relieved that this pet, who means at least as much to me as my siblings, there’s a great chance Stan will now live to 20 at the very least.”

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Boyd adopted Stanley as an eight-week-old kitten and he’s been by her side through ups and downs including breakups, marriage to husband Michael, a freelance journalist, fertility struggles and pregnancy. He even was the inspiration for the cat character in her new book.

“Stanley is like my spirit animal,” she says. “He’s the friend who has witnessed my trials and tribulations.”

Boyd’s vet suspected a kidney disease in November 2016, after Boyd reported change in Stanley’s behavior. The changes included;

Losing interest in eating

No more interested in chasing other kitty friends

Avoided going outside for walks on his purple leash.

A diagnosis confirmed by a specialist who gave Stanley three months to live.

“I started crying,” Boyd says. “I freaked out.”

But instead of preparing to lose her furry best friend, Boyd contacted the feline renal transplant program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Ryan Veterinary Hospital, one of only three in the country performing such procedures.

Like other potential patients, Stanley first had to be evaluated to ensure he didn’t have other significant medical conditions, says Dr. Lillian Aronson, a surgery professor at the university’s Veterinary Medicine school who started the transplant program in 1998.

“Clinically, he looked great,” Aronson tells PEOPLE.

Donor cats suffer no ill effects from giving up one of their two kidneys and their life expectancy is not impacted, she says. Indoor cats live on average about 14 to 16 years.

“We are just as concerned with the life of the donor as the recipient,” Aronson says, adding that patients’ families must agree to adopt the donor. “They are saving another animal’s life and we owe it to them to save their life and give them a good home.”

The procedure costs about $12,000 to $16,000 for surgeries on both cats, hospital recovery, testing, medications and monitoring, a cost well worth it for some, she says.

Boyd’s total out-of-pocket cost was around $19,000, which included the transplant fees and weekly post-op blood tests, as well as payment to a local emergency vet after Stanley suffered a complication.

Boyd says she’s built up savings through frugal living, including relinquishing a new car to replace her 2009 Toyota. Boyd has no regrets. The donor cat, Jay, has already become a beloved member of the family, while the Stanley is now active.

“He’s my muse and my best friend,” Boyd says. “He’s here purring. I know I did the right thing.”

 

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