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Cancer Survivor Cat Gets Ground-Breaking Knee Replacement

Cyrano the cat developed cancer in his left hind leg last year. A round of aggressive treatment put the disease into remission, but he paid...

JaneA Kelley  |  Jan 31st 2012


Cyrano the cat developed cancer in his left hind leg last year. A round of aggressive treatment put the disease into remission, but he paid a pretty steep price: his formerly cancerous leg is now nearly useless and causing him extreme pain.

Because of his massive size, amputating the affected limb was really not an option.

Fortunately, his caretakers, Sandra Lerner and Len Bosack, found a solution to their beloved cat’s problem when they turned to doctors at the North Carolina State University Veterinary Hospital: a total knee replacement.

Three years ago, Noel Fitzpatrick, a British veterinarian, performed the first feline knee replacement, but the metal device he used allowed only limited motion. The implant used in Cyrano is made of plastic and cobalt chromium and allows a full range of motion, like those used in humans.

A massive amount of engineering and medical technology went into producing the device.

It’s hard to say how much this surgery would have cost, because staff donated so much time and materials in the name of research. But Lerner and Bosack’s bill will still be around $20,000.

Fortunately the couple can afford it. Lerner is one of the founders of Cisco Systems, one of the world’s largest electronics companies, and I imagine she can write a personal check for 20 grand without even breaking a sweat.

I can’t even imagine having that kind of cash on hand.

Lerner knows she’s fortunate to be able to provide Cyrano with such advanced and costly care.

“He’s my child. And if it were your child, would you begrudge the money?” she said. “I have a personal philosophy that people are, at best, equal with the other inhabitants of the planet. And I’m very, very grateful that I have the money and (am) able to do it.”

As for Cyrano, he’s making an excellent recovery. He’ll be back on his feet in about a week, and he’ll be on cage rest and limited activity for about three months after he goes back home. Hopefully he’ll be climbing his cat trees and chasing his mouse toys by this summer.

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