Local couple spends $30,000 to save cat’s life

Cherry and Oki

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)-  How far would you go to save your pet’s life?

A Buffalo couple traveled more than four hundred miles and spent around $30,000 so their cat Oki could receive a life-saving operation.

Eleven year-old Oki recently had a kidney transplant at the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Hospital.

The new kidney is expected to give him at least another three years to live.

But the life-saving measure came with a little something extra: Oki’s new kidney was donated by another cat, 2-year-old Cherry. The couple had to adopt Cherry in order to get the healthy kidney.

Now, both Cherry and Oki are recouping in their Buffalo home after a grueling 8-hour surgery less than a week ago.

The money owners Andre Gonciar and Laure Robichon spent on the operation would have done towards a down payment on a house.

“If buying a house would have actually meant to lose someone that we both love so much, living in that house would have been wrong,” Andre told News 4.

Oki’s medicine will cost thousands more.

11-year-old Oki, about a week after undergoing a kidney transplant.
11-year-old Oki, about a week after undergoing a kidney transplant.

So why did the couple do it? Andre told News 4 Oki is like a son to him; he rescued him as a kitten in Romania. Their closeness began back then, the day before Oki was supposed to be put down after losing his back legs, which were paralyzed.

“I looked at him and he started purring and playing with my beard. And at that point I looked at him and decided well, if you want to fight. Let’s fight,” said Andre.

And they haven’t stopped fighting since.

Laure said the decision to move forward with the surgery was a no-brainer, once she realized how little he might have left.

“Oki was in the final stage of Kidney failure and it was hard to tell whether he would be able to live another month, up to six months, or even a year,” she said.

For the couple, any extra time was worth it.

“The surgical team was amazing. They were just amazing and the dedication and the love for both their job and the little creatures they were dealing with was outstanding,” Andre told News 4.

2-year-old Cherry and 11-year-old Oki are slowly getting acquainted with each-other, and they’ll have to: Andre says now, they’re blood brothers.

The couple has created a Go Fund Me! page to help with medical costs. To donate, click here: http://www.gofundme.com/save_oki 

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