Get the tissues ready because there is a cocker spaniel named Coco is traveling all the way from her home in Lancashire, UK in order to get to the US to save the life of one of her puppies named Millie, through a pioneering stem cell transplant.
Coco gave birth to Millie six years ago in the UK before Millie moved over 4,000 miles away to California with her new owners. Millie was living a great life, until recently when she was diagnosed with cancer.
Now, her only hope for survival is a rare stem cell treatment. The experimental stem cell treatment isn’t yet available in the UK, and in the US it’s only performed at one hospital.
Both Coco and her owner, 52-year-old Robert Alcock, made the long and exhausting trek from their home in Darwen, Lancashire, all the way to North Carolina. There mother and daughter were reunited.
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Millie’s owners, Serena and Andrew Lodge from San Francisco, are the ones who funded the trip as well as the expensive treatment – which likely runs in the thousands of dollars.
The stem cell transplant will be performed at the NC State Veterinary Hospital – the only animal hospital in the whole world that offers this treatment.
The way it works is that healthy blood stem cells are taken from Coco’s bone marrow, there they are then injecting into Millie in an effort to replace her diseased ones.
Robert, who works as a catering manager, said, “Serena and Andrew started chemo on Millie three months ago but they’ve been told the only chance they’ll have of curing her is if they find a positive donor so she can have a transplant. They contacted us, and we sent some blood samples for testing, along with samples from one of Coco’s other pups. They both came back positive, but because Coco is Millie’s mother the vet said she would be a better match.”
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After receiving the test results, both Serena and Andrew asked Robert if he would be willing to fly out to the US with seven-year-old Coco in an attempt to save Millie’s life.
Robert added, “The Lodges have paid for everything, and I didn’t like to ask how much the operation is costing but I think it will be in the thousands. We will be in America for about a week. Coco will go into hospital on Sunday for the procedure and then the cells will be donated on Monday.”
Andrew and Serena, who moved to the US for work, have already been told that even if the operation is a success, Millie still only a 50% chance of being cured.
Coco is expected to make a full recovery after her procedure.
Robert said, “If it was a human then the chances of survival would be really good. But this is a pioneering procedure, they haven’t done very many of these transplants before, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens.”
We’re sending all our positive vibes out to both Coco and Millie, that the outcome is a success for both.