Couple seeks 4-legged donor to save their loved one’s life

You would expect parents to go to great lengths, any lengths, really, to prolong the life of a son or daughter.

But this is a story about a Kaua‘i couple willing to go to the same lengths to save their “daughter,” a 9-year-old golden retriever named Sandy.

Sandy is on intravenous fluids daily now, and Gregg and Kathy Kiaha of Kapa‘a are desperately seeking a donor dog for a kidney transplant, before it’s too late.

They have lined up a team of surgical veterinarians from the University of California-Davis Veterinary Medical Hospital to come to Kaua‘i and perform the surgery, and even lined up a suitable operating room and recovery facility, thanks to Dr. Michael Woltmon and Dr. Joanne Seki Woltmon of Kauai Veterinary Clinic in Puhi.

All they really need now is a suitable donor dog, with the first preference being a golden retriever like Sandy, and the second preference being a Labrador, Kathy Kiaha said.

Both of Sandy’s kidneys have failed, and both the donor dog and Sandy could lead normal lives with just one kidney apiece.

The sizable expenses involved in bringing the veterinary team here, and possibly paying the expenses to bring a donor dog to the island, are nothing compared to the joy Sandy has brought the couple over the years, Kathy Kiaha said.

And although Sandy might not even survive the surgery, the alternative is something Kathy Kiaha would rather not consider.

“She’s our baby. She’s our daughter,” Kathy Kiaha said.

“We want to provide her a few more years,” she said, knowing that successful surgery may add only one, or as many as six, years to Sandy’s life.

Kathy Kiaha is a teacher at Hanalei School, and Gregg Kiaha works for Verizon. They can be reached evenings at home at 822-1868, or days at 826-4300 (Hanalei School), or 635-3896.

Associate Editor Paul C. Curtis can be reached at pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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