Rare stem cell procedure performed to help local dog with kidney disease


NEW BERN, Craven County - You may recognize Spanky and his owner, Dan Spangler, from previous stories we've done here at NewsChannel 12.

Tuesday, Spanky underwent a stem cell procedure never done before in Eastern North Carolina.

"He is 14 years 9 months old and right now he is stage 3 to 4 chronic kidney disease," said Joyce Gerardi with Synergy Integrative Veterinary Clinic in New Bern. "What we've elected to do today is different. It has never been done here in Eastern North Carolina."

Gerardi said a amniotic stem cell product, or an amniotic allograft as its sometimes called, is being used. They collect it in a very non-invasive manner. The amniotic products are collected from dogs born by C-section. The procedure is partially intravenously so, as Gerardi puts it, "it adds another dimension of trying to help a dog without compromising them."

"We use low level lasers to put energy into the acupuncture channels," Gerardi said. "This allows so when we deposit the product there, that's a site that I know is triggering the kidney, that's where I want to get these so it will travel through these meridians and get to the target tissue.

"This next step is called aquapuncture, where you take and put fluid into specific acupuncture points. For example, you think how many ways are there to get to Raleigh (N.C.)? There's one more direct route, but there are several others. This is going to take it straight to the kidney area."

Sparky is already due back in two weeks to check for improvements. Spangler has been working with Gerardi for a couple of years on ways to improve Spanky's quality of life. The company that provided the stem cell product is also working with Spangler. It will keep an eye on the data that comes back after the procedure to see if it's a viable option for more widespread use in dogs.

Spangler feels this procedure is the culmination of all that work.

"It's I guess, amazing to know that science and technology has advanced so much that we can do things like this," Spangler said.

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