Dog’s pioneering stem cell treatment at Doncaster hospital

Meg - an eight year-old Labrador cross - with owner Helen Dakin and vet Mark Straw.
Meg - an eight year-old Labrador cross - with owner Helen Dakin and vet Mark Straw.

A rescue dog has become one of the first dogs in the UK to receive pioneering stem cell therapy for her arthritis.

Poor pooch Meg had a terrible start to life and was suspected of being used as bait in a dog fighting ring.

Her problems were compounded by chronic arthritis in her front elbow joints to the extent that she was reluctant to exercise or play as it caused such extreme pain.

But the eight-year-old Labrador cross has been given a new lease of live after ground-breaking stem cell treatment at the Beechwood Veterinary Hospital in Doncaster.

Owner Helen Dakin, of Retford, Nottinghamshire, told how her pet is now almost pain free and full of energy.

She said: “Poor Meg has suffered more than her fair share of problems and we are committed to giving her the best chance in life to make up for her awful start in life.”

Helen sought alternative treatment after anti-inflammatory tablets failed to work.

The hospital’s clinical director Mark Straw took CT scans of Meg’s arthritic joints and recommended stem cell therapy.

He explained: “This ground breaking process of stem cell therapy involves harvesting cells from the patient either by way of extracting fat from under the skin of the host during a small surgical procedure - the sample is then transported to Veterinary Tissue Bank - Europe’s first tissue bank for veterinary surgeons - where the stem cells are extracted and expanded in cell culture and then returned for injection by the veterinary surgeon in to the patient’s injured tissue or joint.

“The cells used are autogenous (from the patient) and because we use the pet’s own cells, there is no risk of rejection. It is a new procedure and as such, is still unproven. However, we were fast running out of options to give Meg back her mobility and although stem cell therapy isn’t a cure for arthritis it can alleviate the pain in some cases.”

Meg had her stem cells harvested and a couple of weeks later they had multiplied enough to have them re-injected back into her joints.

Helen said: “It was a straight-forward procedure and she only had to stay in hospital for a couple of hours then she was able to return home.

“Mark worked miracles with her. By the end of the second week Meg was showing real improvement and although she still limps slightly she is keen to go for a walk now which signifies a huge reduction in the pain as it was a real struggle prior to the therapy to get her to walk even as far as the end of the road.”