HIALEAH (CBSMiami) – A team of Hialeah veterinarians performed a groundbreaking medical procedure on a dog to help him walk again.
Brando, a 9-year-old German shepherd, received an innovative two-part stem cell therapy at Paradise Animal Clinic in Hialeah on Wednesday. It’s the first time this type of therapy has been performed in Florida.
The dog had been paralyzed from the waist down since January and used a doggie wheelchair to get around.
Vets said that he had a skin infection that paralyzed his lungs and then spread to a disc in his back. The infection caused 80 percent of Brando’s leg muscles to weaken.
“We were totally emotionally destroyed. Kids were crying, wife was upset, I was upset,” said owner Manuel Bouza. “Obviously the issue was he was so sick whether we put him down because he’s paralyzed or whether we deal with it.”
Bouza said that they wanted to do whatever they could to help him. One day, he stumbled across a video on YouTube about a dog in Great Britain who had received a stem cell treatment and he became interested.
With no proven options for recovery, they decided to try an experimental stem cell procedure never performed before in Florida.
“This is a last ditch effort,” said Bouza.
During the procedure, surgeons took fat from Brando’s stomach and processed out the stem cells which were then re-injected into his spinal cord. They hope the cells will regenerate tissue and help Brando become more mobile.
“The idea is that stem cells are able to go to a given place in the body and repair,” said said animal surgeon Jose Gorostiza. “Hopefully they will help the cells that are there function again, the new ones.”
The procedure was provided by Stemlogix, a Weston-based Veterinary Regenerative Medicine company that supplies Veterinarians with the equipment and training for Veterinary Stem Cell Therapy. Treatments like the one Brando received typically cost around $2,400.
The surgery went smoothly and Brando is back up on his wheels and playing outside, but only time will tell whether the procedure worked or not.
“It depends on the patient and the response you get, it is individual,” said Gorostiza. “It’s a waiting game that’s the most difficult part.”
Bouza said that he is just happy that Brando is doing well for the time being.
“It’ll be two or three months before we know what’s going on, he’ll get some physical therapy in the meantime,” said Bouza.
In a few weeks Brando will get another round of stem cell injections and those will continue until he’s fully healed.