If you cry easily and love a good heartwarming story involving animals, then break out the tissues because this one is for you.
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 through a pioneering stem cell transplant.
Coco gave birth to her daughter Millie six years ago in the UK before Millie moved over 4,000 miles away to California with her new owners. Everything was going well until she recently received a cancer diagnosis.
Millie’s only hope for survival is a rare stem cell treatment. It’s not 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 journey from their home in Darwen, Lancashire, all the way to North Carolina – where they were reunited with Millie.
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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 like 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 world to offer this treatment.
The experimental procedure involves taking healthy blood stem cells from Coco’s bone marrow then injecting them into Millie in order to replace her diseased ones.
Catering manager Robert 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 emigrated to the US for work, have already been told that even if the operation is successful, there is still only a 50% chance that Millie will be cured.
Coco is expected to make a full recovery after her operation.
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.”
Hopefully, the outcome is a success for both dogs involved.
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.
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