New Orleans Dog’s Bone Marrow Transplant Shows Promise For Children, Elderly

Pit bull Nosey Rosie

NEW ORLEANS – A dog nicknamed Nosey Rosie is leaving the Crescent City for Bellingham, WA, to receive a potentially life-saving bone marrow transplant on Wednesday, April 6, 2016.

         Rosie, a young pit bull, has canine cancer and is being helped by Save-An-Angel (SAA), a non-profit animal rescue founded by Kristie and Johnny Sullens. The Sullens started SAA because their beloved dog Angel was suffering from a type of lymphoma with a 0-2% chance of survival. It is the same disease affecting Rosie and millions of other dogs worldwide.

         They launched a lengthy and expensive campaign to save Angel, even giving up their wedding rings and honeymoon to do so. The subsequent bone marrow transplant (BMT) cost close to $16,000.

         This new cutting-edge technology to be used on Rosie is a fraction of the cost SAA funded for Angel, and the Sullens hope the procedure will have a profound effect on treatment not only for canines, but for children and the elderly suffering from leukemia and lymphoma.

         Rosie will travel more than 2,500 miles for the special surgery with Dr. Edmund Sullivan of Bellingham Veterinary. She will receive the BMT and new type of radiation, allowing Rosie to receive the transplant for free.

         Dr. Sullivan is the veterinarian uniformly credited with doing one of the first non-experimental marrow transplants for a dog in the Pacific Northwest – in 2004 on a golden retriever named Comet who had T-cell lymphoma.

         The new radiation is being applied as a potential treatment for children and the elderly suffering from these diseases. Radiation of this type is new and places less stress on the body, making it a better treatment option for the very young and old, as opposed to typical radiation.

         SAA said Rosie has a 50% chance of being fully cured after the transplant; the cure rate with chemotherapy alone is 0-2%.

         The bone marrow or stem cell transplant is a procedure saving thousands of human lives every year and 100% of transplant procedures performed on humans were performed on dogs first. Today the technology has come full circle and is now available to the dogs that made it possible in the first place.

          “It’s not a new technology,” Dr. Steven Suter, Medical Director and

assistant professor of oncology in NC State’s College of Veterinary Medicine, said. “It’s just a new application of an existing technology. Doctors have been treating human patients with bone marrow transplantation for many years, and there have been canine patient transplants performed in a research setting for about 20 years, but it’s never been feasible as a standard therapy until now.”

         A little more than two years ago, Rosie was bred for profit and then dumped by a shelter employee when she was no longer a viable source of income. Save-An-Angel became aware of the poor dog’s plight and rescued her, finding a foster family to nurse Rosie back to health. Then learning of the dim future Rosie faced after the cancer diagnosis, Rosie's fosters and Save-An-Angel decided that if there was a chance they could save Rosie's life, they were going to fight.

         In addition to helping save the lives of dogs diagnosed with lymphoma, Save-An-Angel rescues, networks, rehabilitates and transports dogs saved from kill shelters and those found abandoned on the street. Their goal is to help all rescued dogs become part of loving families.

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