In an event that can truly be considered a first for the medical profession, a domesticated Florida panther named Nakiia has undergone a sophisticated stem cell procedure in DeLand, Florida. The panther, who is 15 years old and had been rescued at 4 weeks old by his owner, Jan Hall, had been in severe pain ever since he injured himself in a jumping accident.
Hall, who runs an exotic animal rescue organization, the Nakiia Foundation, named after her beloved panther, has devoted her life to taking in exotic animals whose owners can't keep them. She couldn't stand to see Nakiia in pain, so she brought him to the Newman Veterinary Center in DeLand, where doctors found that he has arthritis in his hips and joints. They suggested that a stem cell procedure might help relieve his pain. Hall was nervous, but eventually agreed to take the chance.
The procedure, performed by Dr. Ted Oliver, involved removing about four tablespoons of adipose tissue from the panther's belly. This tissue was then processed to isolate and activate stem cells, which were re-injected into the animal's joints to regenerate tissue in those areas. This procedure had been performed on about 100 domestic animals, such as dogs, cats and horses, with a 95 percent success rate, but had never been tried on a big cat before.
The effects of the treatment are expected to last about three years, and the excess stem cells will be stored at the veterinary center in case they are needed in the future, preventing the need for more tissue harvesting.
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