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The Trick That Helps Old Dogs

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) - Stem Cell Research made headlines in the late 1990's when scientists first figured out how to extract them. That led to nationwide discussions about the ethics around how we handle the ingredients to human life.

Now, Veterinarians in the corridor are using similar science in a way that isn't so controversial.

The procedure being done at Frey Animal Hospital take cells out of its four legged patients. The day of the operation is a long day, with two surgeries, but that hopefully gives them years of being able to be with their humans families and not in pain.

If pills, therapy and putting down sick family pets out of compassion are the past, moving cells around the body is the future.

"They have a lot of potential left in them," said Frey Hospital Veterinarian Dr. Preston Ayers about the cells that he takes from his patients.

In the morning, he removes fat cells to be process and re-injected into a problem area, like a joint with arthritis or a bad hip.

"Our whole goal is to grab those cells and activate them," said Dr. Ayers. "They're all sitting dormant in the body."

After the injection, Dr. Ayers says 95% of the patients see some kind of improvement.

Ringo is one of them.

"He could not extend his hips at all when I met him," said Dr. Ayers.

"And so she thought she'd try this stem cell, and It's made all the difference in the world," said Marilyn Chamberlain. Her daughter, Gretchen, is Ringo's owner.

What's now an active, but 13-year old dog, has bought himself upwards of about two years before the effects wear off.

"Well he was sad before and now he feels like a whole new dog," said Chamberlain.

So maybe, for an old dog, you don't need new tricks, if you just have a few old cells.

"I know my daughter considers this surgery a miracle," said Chamberlain.

The early stages of similar procedures are already being done in people in the form of plasma injections that some athletes use to recover from injuries. But Doctors say those treatments can be expanded in both animals and humans and from there, the sky is the limit.

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