Just like humans, sometimes dogs need kidney transplants — but there’s no waiting list or network in place to find donors.
One dog in Missouri got a second chance thanks to her quick-thinking owner and one of her own puppies.
Three years ago on a hot summer day in southern Missouri, a dog named Star was saved.
“Star and the puppies were found in a plywood box in summer, and they had no food or water,” said Dr. Shannon Flegle, veterinarian.
Star had given birth to 13 puppies.
By the time star arrived at Murphy Animal Hospital in High Ridge, Flegle says Star was in advanced kidney failure and having seizures.
After several weeks of medical care, Star bounced back and was doing okay, until this summer.
“One day she just started vomiting and wouldn’t eat,” Flegle said.
Tests showed Star’s kidneys were failing, and she needed a miracle.
“I tried IV fluids, any supplement.. we did acupuncture on her,” Flegle said.
Star’s family was running out of options, so they called Elsa’s family to see if they could help.
Remember those nine puppies?
One of them landed a home with the Murray family.
They named her Elsa.
“She’s playful, she’s fun. It just really seemed like she picked us at the time,” said Jenny Murray, Elsa’s owner.
Murray kept in touch with the families who adopted Elsa’s siblings and the Flegles.
But, she never imagined she’d get a call like this.
Murray remembered, “She said ‘I have a crazy question for you.'”
“I think I sobbed the entire time, actually,” Flegle said.
She explained that Star’s health was failing and doctors said her only chance was a kidney transplant.
“I could tell this was a mom, this was her baby, you know. she was going to do what she needed to do to try to save her baby,” Murray said.
But Jenny couldn’t make this decision alone, she had to get the whole family onboard.
“This is Elsa’s chance to save her mom, and they’re like, ‘Oh so she’s a hero!'” Murray said.
On Oct.10, surgeons at the University of Wisconsin-Madison performed the rare transplant surgery on the mother and daughter.
“And 36 hours later, her blood work was normal,” Flegle said.
Both dogs are back home in the St. Louis area recovering.
The dog who nearly gave her life to save her puppies was given a second chance thanks one of her own.