Branson, Mo. specialist helps big cat with kidney stone procedure

Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 4:15 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 9, 2023 at 4:50 PM CST
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BRANSON, Mo. (KY3) - A Branson specialist people turn to for kidney stones has seen his most unusual patient yet.

Akida, 16-year-old a serval cat, was diagnosed with kidney stones. Don Wilson made a house call to the Little Rock Zoo, saving one of the big cat’s nine lives. Wilson said this could be the first procedure to be done on an animal.

“I’ve treated over 400 lb patients, human patients just think if I could treat lions, tigers, and bears,” said Wilson. “I’ve just proven it.”

Akida lives at the Little Rock Zoo in Arkansas.

After the wild cat developed painful kidney stones, a doctor in Arkansas told veterinarians he had someone in mind.

“He gave her my number and told her that I was the only one crazy enough to try it,” said Wilson.

Wilson works for US Lithotripsy but is contracted with CoxHealth Branson. He specializes in x-ray technology and a procedure called lithotripsy.

He said he uses a laser or shockwaves to break down kidney stones.

“That shock is released, and it crushes hard objects like rocks and stones,” said Wilson.

Wilson said he’s only done the minimally invasive procedure on humans.

“It was nice to try to help an animal,” said Wilson. “To prove that we can do an animal is probably the first in the world to be done.”

Wilson said he had to change his techniques, shaving off fur instead. After the procedure was a smashing success, he received messages from around the world. Wilson said he hoped it showed the good lithotripsy could do without the need for major surgery.

“This thing is growing, and hopefully, we’ve opened some new doors for the future,” said Wilson. “Prove that what I do for humans is a great thing.”

Wilson also received a gift from Akida, a cat painting. Akida’s paws were dipped in blue paint and put on a canvas. It was a thank you note, which he said was a dream come true. Little Rock zookeepers said Wilson would be back helping Akida with his other Kidney Stone next week.

So how’s Akida? Zookeepers said he was on a date all day with another serval cat, Louise.

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