I’ve finished walking and feeding my dogs, and am now gearing up to go collect my beautiful Sheba from the hospital, where she stayed overnight. Yesterday, she underwent surgery – a high-tech tummy tuck – to harvest fatty tissue from her belly, which was promptly FedEx’d to Vet-Stem in San Diego, California, in a special ice box.
At Vet-Stem’s HQ, the fat that was merely excess tonnage on Sheba’s tummy will be processed for her own stem cells, the body’s own secret weapon for high-tech healing. And those stem cells will be FedEx’d back here – in that special ice box – and injected directly into her sore joints, to regenerate them. Really! She will also receive an intravenous injection, so her cells can travel around her entire body, via the bloodstream, exerting their tremendous healing power wherever it’s needed.
The package arrives tomorrow morning. I can hardly wait! So in the meantime, I keep staring at photographs of a little white dog named Fiona.
Sheba happens to adore little white dogs – she’s a Border Collie, so her inner sheepdog has a thing for creatures that resemble little lambs. But that’s not the reason I’m staring at Fiona’s photos. I’m staring at them because Fiona received stem cell regeneration therapy last year, courtesy of a generous donation from Vet-Stem. And her procedure was a resounding success.
At the time of Fiona’s procedure, she was a little orphan Maltese up for adoption at the Humane Society of New York, the wonderful animal shelter founded in 1904. The Humane Society is home to an excellent animal clinic that’sstaffed by some of the most competent, compassionate vets in the city. At the young age of six, poor little Fiona found herself not only homeless, but suffering from luxating patellas, a condition that, sadly, is quite common in small, purebred dogs.
Her little knees actually bent backward – ouch – making it hard to walk and resulting in pain, joint strain, and chronic, early-onset arthritis. Despite two corrective knee surgeries at the Humane Society hospital, X-rays revealed young Fiona would always walk like a little-old-lady dog.
That was not a verdict Vet-Stem was willing to accept! So company founder and CEO Dr. Bob Harman kindly donated Vet-Stem’s services to help Fiona out, with the goal of making her more eligible to potential adopters. Veterinary surgeon Dr. Elizabeth Higgins, who received Vet-Stem certification in 2007, performed the operation on Fiona.
Because of the small size of this sweet dog, her cells had to be cultured – multiplied in the lab – for there to be enough of them! Once that was done, Fiona’s cells were overnighted to the Society, and injected intravenously and into her aching joints. Doc Higgins was quite optimistic about the little dog’s prospects. “It will definitely help make Fiona more comfortable, more mobile – and more adoptable,” she told Cesar’s Way magazine, which covered the procedure for a makeover feature called “From Scruff to Puff.”
Those were famous last words, because shortly after her procedure, Fiona walked out of the Humane Society on strong new legs – and trotted all the way to her forever home. Her new owner recently sent the Society a brag book of photos. Caution: They’re seriously cute. Especially the one with the Stratocaster, left, my fave. Like the Vet-Stem team and Doc Higgins, Fiona is definitely rock-star material.
Please leave a comment letting us know which Fiona photo is your favorite!