By all preliminary accounts, the first stem-cell therapy treatment done on a canine in Nicholasville is a complete success.
The 8-year-old golden Labrador and service dog, Booster, had been showing signs of hip dysplasia and became the first to undergo the revolutionary new stem-cell therapy in the recently completed animal clinic of MediVet America located off U.S. 27 and Moore Drive.
Booster travels all over the world with owner Davis Hawn to “teach others about the healing power of dogs,” Hawn said.
As Booster got older, Hawn noticed the dog’s hips were hurting more as Booster showed pain just trying to sit down and began to have difficulty jumping into the truck.
This prompted Hawn to look into methods of protecting and helping his best friend. He did not want Booster to suffer through the long and painful process of a hip replacement, and this is when he heard about the regenerative benefits of stem-cell therapy and the work MediVet was conducting.
It just so happened to work out that the pair would be in Cincinnati last week, coinciding with the opening of the new Nicholasville clinic at MediVet by Joseph G. Yocum, D.V.M., who specializes in large-animal vet research.
MediVet America is one of the leading developers of animal stem-cell regenerative therapy for pets suffering from osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia, ligament and cartilage injuries, and similar ailments.
MediVet had been in contact with Hawn and knew the story behind his relationship with the life-saving service dog.
The company then worked with Hawn and decided to conduct the inaugural stem-cell treatment completely free of charge as a way to celebrate the clinic’s opening while preserving Booster’s quality of life.
Until about 2008, small animals suffering like Booster had only painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications to help with pain relief — which are harmful to the liver and may offer only minor relief.
“Stem cells are just repair cells. Injecting them reduces pain, reduces inflammation, reduces scar tissue and makes them feel better, and then their function improves,” said Mike Hutchinson, D.V.M. “They can perhaps go up stairs when they couldn’t before, and so improving their quality of life is key.”
The owner of Animal General of Cranberry veterinary clinic near Pittsburgh, Pa., Hutchinson is one of North America’s leading practitioners in stem-cell regenerative medicine and has performed more than 470 adipose stem-cell procedures.
Hutchinson came from Pennsylvania to take the lead on the MediVet clinic inaugural stem-cell procedure on Booster and to guild Yocum on how he has done these type of treatments in the past.
“This new procedure marks a major milestone in regenerative veterinary medicine,” Hutchinson said. “I’m excited to share this news with my colleagues.”
Booster went to the clinic Wednesday, Oct. 24, for the surgery, which is no more complicated than a neutering, Yocum said. The process lasts several hours and consists of anesthetizing the animal, removing fatty tissue from back behind the scapula, and then extracting the stem-cells.
After about three hours, the stem cells come back from the lab in what is joking refered to as “strawberry milk” due to its coloring. From there, the cells are injected directly into the hip cartilage — or lack thereof — and begin the rebuilding process.
After only a few days, Booster began displaying improved mobility and a higher level of comfort, Hawn said.
“Two days later, (Booster) jumped on the bed and stayed most of the night,” Hawn said. “I thought he didn’t like a warm bed and preferred a cold floor. I’m now thinking sore hips made him shift all night before ... I never anticipated Booster rolling in the grass the very next day — not good for a stitched dog but obviously pain free.”
The full results of Booster’s improvement will not be noticeable for at least a month, but those involved said signs so far indicate the treatment was a success.