Stem Cell Therapy Save Her Dog, And Saved Her
The same remedy that healed journalist Julia Szabo’s dog wound up saving her life.
Part of Szabo’s book, “Medicine Dog: The Miraculous Cure that Healed My Best Friend and Saved My Life” (Lyon’s Press, Guilford, CT, 2014; $16.47), is devoted to a black pit bull who found a sort of fountain of youth through stem cell therapy. Another portion focuses on how a similar therapy may have saved Szabo’s own life.
Szabo says she purposefully intended to adopt a black pit bull from animal care and control in New York City because such a dog might otherwise never be adopted. It’s true that black dogs of any breed are least likely to find homes, and dogs that resemble pit bulls aren’t for everyone. Like most municipal animal control facilities, New York’s is inundated with pits.
She recalls that when she first saw Sam, “He reached out his big bear-like paw, and I took it to my heart. It turned out the decision to adopt Sam was the best choice of my life.” Sam was the “perfect dog,” he adds, though large at 75 lbs. He was about a year old when adopted in 1996.
As the years passed, Sam became increasingly arthritic. Things got so bad that he could barely lift his leg to relieve himself. Szabo was treating Sam as her veterinarian suggested, but he continued to decline. One day, Sam collapsed on the street. Thing is – though he was about 14, aside from the arthritis, Sam was otherwise healthy.
Desperate to try anything, via Google, Szabo discovered Vet-Stem, a company that provides regenerative stem cell therapy for animals.
“It’s an amazing thing,” Szabo says, “While people in Europe know about this (treatment) and accept it, most Americans think embryonic stem cells (come) from aborted fetuses, but this isn’t it; these stem cells are carried in belly fat. This is a case of loving fat.”
Under anesthesia, the animal undergoes liposuction, literally a tummy tuck. The fatty or adipose tissue is overnighted to Vet-Stem in San Diego, CA., where it’s processed in a centrifuge to separate the stem cells from the fat. Then, the stem cells are placed in vials and delivered to the veterinarian on dry ice. The cells are then directly injected into the pet’s arthritic joints and intravenously into the bloodstream.
“It’s like the movie ‘Fantastic Voyage,’ where they shrink down the scientists into a tiny little capsule and go through the guy’s bloodstream,” says Szabo. “The stem cells naturally target places in the body that are inflamed and need an assist. In Sam’s case, they went right to his inflamed joints, and it worked.”
Szabo says that she noticed results within hours after Sam came out of anesthesia. “I was amazed,” she says.
Within days, there was a spring in her dog’s step that Szabo hadn’t seen in years. His quality of life vastly improved, and Sam lived to age 17.
Meanwhile, Szabo herself was silently suffering from inflammatory bowel disease. Her quality of life was often more than a bit impaired. “It was very embarrassing and uncomfortable,” she says. After one life-threatening episode landed her in the ER, Szabo reached out in desperation to a veterinarian from VetStem who’d advised her regarding Sam; he suggested stem cell therapy.
“It never occurred to me,” Szabo says, “I thought it was only for arthritic conditions.”
The vet referred her to the California Stem Cell Treatment Center, which was able to treat Szabo similarly to how her Sam was treated.
“I’m wonderful now,” she says. “My life is now normal, and I love it. But I also think about all the animals and people who might benefit and are unaware of stem cell treatment, or who can’t afford it.”
Stem cell therapy for pets costs somewhere over $2,500, Szabo says. Her own stem-cell therapy was around $9,000, and not covered by insurance (such stem cell therapy is FDA compliant, though not FDA approved.)
Google stem cell therapy and all sorts of applications are now being studied by medical researchers, and often implemented in Europe, though not so much in the U.S. “Stem cell therapy should not be a religious or a political issue; it’s a medical issue,” she says.
Learn more about stem-cell therapy for animals at Vet-Stem. Szabo welcomes input on how to help support stem cell therapy becoming accepted as a mainstream treatment in America. Contact her at [email protected] or via her Facebook fan page.
©Steve Dale, LLC; Tribune Content Agency