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Organ Transplants for Horses

(inspired by today's bad news)
  (+14, -2)(+14, -2)
(+14, -2)
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My lovely stallion has just been handed his death sentence as a result of bloodwork done yesterday. Early stage renal failure with no longer than 6 months (hopefully the whole way through breeding season) to enjoy green pastures and blue skies on this earth.

Now, what really stinks is that every week I see healthy two-three-four year old horses break their legs racing and have to be put down. It's time to start harvesting their organs and transplanting them into older horses. I propose nation wide donor matching/screening for horses and, as most race tracks are near airports, getting the kidneys on the next flight out to a recipient shouldn't be that difficult to coordinate. In addition, the State Vets that work the race tracks would also have to skilled surgeons and the horses would have to sign an organ donor card......

Of course, this would also have to be offered at a reasonable cost to owners.....


Susen, Nov 09 2001

Rood and Riddle Vet hospital in Lexington http://www.roodandriddle.com
[Susen, Nov 09 2001, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Hagyard, Davidson, and McGee Vet Hospital in Lexington http://www.hagyard.com
[Susen, Nov 09 2001, last modified Oct 05 2004]

CYP-450 http://www.theberri...rchives/cyp450.html
Widespread immunological and hormonal involvement. Coincidentally, can be disrupted by grapefruit juice, alchohol, and tobacco. [reensure, Nov 09 2001]

Colt with a broken leg http://www.ncbi.nlm...t&list_uids=9364231
Some folks go to a lot of expense to repair broken legs in horses. [bungston, May 03 2005]


       You have my sympathies. I'm sure you will make his last months good ones.   

       Re: Horse surgery. I don't see any reason why not. Half of the task is adapting human surgical procedures, the other half understanding horse anatomy and body chemistry well enough to tissue match, give transfusions etc.
st3f, Nov 09 2001, last modified Nov 10 2001

       Susen, what exactly transpired in that bloodtest? The initial wording seems to indicate the bloodwork was Cause of problem rather than confirmation of this sad news.
thumbwax, Nov 10 2001

       Yeah, I see that now --- smack me with the pedant stick. No, the bloodwork merely confirmed my suspicions that something wasn't quite right. Poor coat, loss of weight, excessive water consumption....etc. My homeopathic chiropractor is attempting some things.....we'll see.
Susen, Nov 10 2001

       All we can do is do our best for our fur and feathered charges. My sympathies.
Oolahboolah, Nov 11 2001

       I don't mean to be insensitive here, but isn't it cheaper to get a new pet/animal than to operate on the animal and thereby pay a highly-skilled surigical team, who could get paid a great deal to help people with their skills?   

       Also, horses don't tend to understand and put up with the after effects of surgery very well. And bristolz brings up other important issues.
seal10, Nov 13 2001

       seal, Susen lives and breathes horses - understands equine behavior and physical sciences far more than I could imagine. I've checked her site out a number of times as well as other forums she participates in - she is knowledgable and shares her insights. In this case, it's business and pleasure and science reduced to a WIBNI. I agree and hope that equine to equine transplants should be possible, horses are a commodity in many respects, and investments should not tank because of an injury, leaving only previous winnings or a few ribbons - let alone leave no redeeming value other than previous offspring in the case of those horses which need to be 'put down' because of a broken leg. Humans are benefitting from transplants of sorts from horses. But the horses themselves have not benefitted from exchanges from horses. When the horse benefits, then does the owner.
thumbwax, Nov 13 2001

       Well stated, thumbwax.
bristolz, Nov 13 2001

       //I don't mean to be insensitive here, but isn't it cheaper to get a new pet/animal than to operate on the animal and thereby pay a highly-skilled surigical team, who could get paid a great deal to help people with their skills?//   

       seal10, no insensitivity taken...but let me explain some things.... "pets" is not the appropriate term for people whose business is animals. "Phone Chatter" just sold at Keeneland last week (I was there) for $3.6 million dollars. My stallion is worth about a brand new Mercedes...the biggest most expensive Mercedes on the market.   

       Some horses do well with surgeries and recovery....others do not. Depends on the temperament of the animal. We had a horse break a back leg in a starting gate accident about 6 weeks ago. It wasn't a *serious* break, but it was a break and did require surgery and rest. The mare is still in Kentucky recovering and doing well. Charismatic broke his leg in the Belmont and had surgery and pins put in....he is now standing at stud. Thousands and thousands of horses undergo colic surgery every year and recovery usually is based on the severity of the impacted/twisted intestines....not the horse.   

       As for surgeons for horses....well, some of the surgery skills performed for horses would put a lot of people docs to shame. Fortunately, there are thousands of skilled surgeons who would rather work on animals than people (I'll find some links to the big vet hospitals). This I understand completely..... I can't begin to tell you my revulsion at the thought of being a people nurse (one of my boarders is an ER nurse and she tells me stories...). I would rather clean up dog vomit any day than people vomit. I am completely revulsed by the thought of changing a baby's diaper....but I have cleaned up horse/dog wounds, injuries, and sicknesses that would make most people turn pale and run gagging from the room..... I am a horse "midwife" and have delivered over 200 foals (sometimes having to reach inside and reposition the foals first), but I would NEVER watch a video of a woman having a baby (I think I would puke :-)   

       BTW, reensure, thank you for your link and e-mail, I appreciate it.
Susen, Nov 14 2001

       Valuable race horses are the ones that should get transplant organs, if any horses should, but there are some problems.   

       If a human has a transplant he needs to be on anti-rejection drugs for the rest of his life. The side-effects of these drugs might effect the horse's performance. The other problem is that the value of a race horse is also dependent on it's breeding potential and breeding from horses that needed replacement organs sounds a little suspect.
Aristotle, Nov 14 2001

Some of those drugs come by way of horse donor, you know.
thumbwax, Nov 15 2001

       Aristotle: Replacement organs shouldn't affect the ability of a horse to reproduce, at least in a male. This is based on an understanding of human physiology. There may be problems with the anti-rejection drugs, admittedly, and if a female is weakened permanently after the operation, that will affect her ability to bear foals. But you could probably also breed from them using sperm and eggs taken before surgery, so maybe there isn't much of an *economic* argument in these cases.
pottedstu, Nov 15 2001

       However a horse that has had a problem with organs might not be good breeding stock. If you do breed from them you could create a line of race horses that are prone to internal organ failure.
Aristotle, Nov 15 2001

       Then those horses ought not be playing mouth organs. I humbly suggest they learn to play a steel guitar or perhaps even bagpipes.
thumbwax, Nov 15 2001

       Seal10: "I don't mean to be insensitive here, but isn't it cheaper to get a new pet/animal than to operate on the animal and thereby pay a highly-skilled surigical team, who could get paid a great deal to help people with their skills?"   

       Entirely aside from Susen's monetary investment in the horses, try replacing 'pet/animal' with 'child'.   

       It isn't possible to just replace something that you've loved and raised from a little bit of fur with eyes by wandering down to the nearest convienence store. If either of my cats died, I...don't know what I'd do. Ask a woman whether she should just go have another kid to replace the one she lost, after all they're all the same...
StarChaser, Nov 16 2001

       I don't know where you are in the world, but the U.S.A. Ohio State University School of Veterinary Medicine is one of the leaders in veterinary medicine, for large animals in particular. They have an operating theatre for horses. Find an aspiring graduate student there or through there, at another fine school. It would be a last-ditch attempt, but a case like yours might start the trend, if it has not started already. If your horse is the first, then the fund that gets started to help others will be named after your horse. Some consolation, at least.
entremanure, Nov 16 2001

       There are many valid arguments to this point. First off, I have lost two horses to different internal trouble (one being a bout of sand colic that the good ole redneck vet diagnosed as a kidney infection,*I knew better and told him so* and one that is still a mystery) We had surgery done on T.J.(the first one) and even though he came through it alright, he collapsed two days later and wasn't able to get up again. He was euthanized. I am a Registered Veterinary Technician and I would love to see these animals get organ transplants but even in modern veterinary medicine it will be very hard to find those that 1) can pay and then 2) will pay for these costly and still very risky operations. Horses in particular don't come out of surgery very well simply because of how their abdomens are situated and the thin material their abdominal walls are made out of. Even if they did pull through they could have an anurism like T.J.; or the place where the incision was made will still be very weak.   

       On the subject of broken legs...there have been alot of advancements and not as many people put their horse down for that anymore. At least not the ones that are worth a substantial amount of money. Now, there are still people that will tell you that it is too complicated to bother with. It is also true when they tell you that they are never the same again. They are often never rode, just used for breeding, and are always at risk of the leg re-breaking even though it is a common belief that once a bone is broken it heals stronger than before. Not so in a horse.   

       Horses may seems like sturdy creatures, but their physically and internally they are very fragile.   

       Love the idea, possibly wealthy horse owners will be able to afford to gamble with costly operations such as this. (this has already been applied somewhat to pets of other types) ** I know this is a little late Susen, but I'm sorry to hear about your horse.**
vendetta, Jul 16 2003

       I am certain you could find someone willing to do this surgery. The nice thing is that since these are horses, you could just find the perfect match, buy it, and take the kidney for your horse. If they were from super-inbred strains I bet rejection would be less of a problem as well.
bungston, May 01 2005

       Interesting point about inbreeding and rejection. There's less genetic diversity in thoroughbreds (as far as I know) than in, say, people, because of their very very small founding population. Does anyone know if this translates into higher chances of compatibility? Are there established tests for compatibility as there are for humans?
Basepair, May 01 2005

       //Of course, this would also have to be offered at a reasonable cost to owners//   

       Why? If you want your horse/investment healthy or repaired it is going to cost you. Now I don't mind you paying a hefty insurance tab for this option, but don't start asking for hand outs...if that is how the above quote should be understood.   

       ...but good idea if you can afford it.
macncheesy, May 02 2005

       Opinion, re: do inbreds have higher chances of compatibility?   

       Yes. Consider term pregnancies from mating of closely related individuals. Higher incidence of lineage related abnormalities pass immunoscrutiny and end in live birth. There is no explanation for this other than mother/child (host/graft) complement system agreement.
reensure, May 03 2005

       I never understood why, and still don't horses have to be put down when they break their legs! Why can't you just slap a cast on em and let em heal? They are self healing organisms with their own immune systems you know...
EvilPickels, May 03 2005

       I think it is because the horses gnaw the casts off, and any cone shaped antignaw collar must be so large that it acts as a sail and knocks the horse over, breaking additional bones.   

       That's what I heard, anyway.
bungston, May 03 2005

       So? Give em a metal restraint! One that will only allow the horse to move its head up and down, and a little bit sideways. Like a straight jacket, only it's made out of metal braces.
EvilPickels, May 04 2005

       [EP] - check out my link above. Some people do try hard, and are successful, at bringing horses back from broken legs.
bungston, May 04 2005


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