AVON LAKE, Ohio -- The same stem cell treatments that have revolutionized human healthcare are now are giving elderly and injured pets a new 'leash' on life.
“How they come in and after the treatment is phenomenal,” said Dr. Carmen Petti. “They’re not limping anymore, not lame anymore.”
Dr. Petti is one of the first, and one of only a handful of veterinarians in Northeast Ohio performing the procedures.
The treatment has produced incredible results on some skin conditions, osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia, ligament damage and/or cartilage injuries.
It’s also being tested on numerous other ailments and diseases.
She says, in one study, that followed 155 dogs they saw 99% improvement.
The procedure takes about 30 minutes and begins with about two to three tablespoons of fat.
During the procedure, which takes about 30 minutes, doctors harvest two to three tablespoons of fat from the animal.
Dr. Petti says adipose tissue is loaded with high regenerative stem cells.
“They get put under anesthesia and from there we make an incision in the abdomen, and we take fat that’s right under the umbilical,” said Dr. Petti. “The fat then gets activated through a special process so stem cells are able to divide and become something else."
The stem cells are then re-injected in the problem joint or re-introduced through an IV.
Leftover or remaining stem cells are then sent to MediVet Biologics in Kentucky to be cryogenically stored until they are needed again for another treatment.
According to a spokesperson, MediVet is a global leader in veterinary regenerative medicine and biological solutions with a long history of helping animals using stem cells and groundbreaking procedures.
“You know to see is to believe,” said Dr. Petti.
But it’s not cheap.
Costs range from $1,000 up to $2,500 for the first procedure and surgery.
Subsequent injections are significantly lower because the animal doesn’t have to be anesthetized.
“I said no in the beginning; I said that's crazy,” said Kima Yandell.
Kima and her husband, Brian, are the proud parents of a two-year-old hairless Sphinx cat named Kruze, who was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or HCM.
HCM causes the heart muscle to thicken and is nearly always fatal.
“It’s such a horrible ending if it goes to fruition,” said Brian Yandell. “Obviously we’re upset about that.”
Although HCM isn’t currently an “on label” usage for the stem cell treatments, they say Kruze has responded amazingly well to the procedures.
“The stem cells immediately had some effect,” said Brian. “It’s like an immediately happier cat.”
The Yandells are hopeful that more pet owners will get involved and, ultimately, bring down the costs for everyone over time.
But more than anything, they just want Kruze to have the quality of life, and they say, right now thanks to “his own stem cells” he is a healthy, happy cat.
“The future’s bright,” said Dr. Petti. “I think stem cells are going to become a regular part of treatment protocols for everything: diabetes, kidney disease -- you name it.”