Believe it or not, the cure for Comet’s cancer involved dog lovers in five states and four countries. And, it is a perfect illustration of what comparative oncology is all about.
The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has performed hundreds of experimental bone-marrow or stem-cell transplants on dogs over the past 40 years. The perfection of these procedures and techniques are now used worldwide to treat cancer in about 40,000 people each year.
“The early research that led to successful bone-marrow transplantation in humans was based on research conducted on dogs with cancer. For this we can thank man’s best friend for contributing to a legacy that has saved … thousands of people around the world,” Dr. Rainer Storb, who participated in the research, said in a statement.
Learn more in the articles below. You can learn more about this procedure and its successes at Suzi Beber’s Smiling Blue Skies.
Dog Saved by Bone: £30K Marrow Transplant Op for Cancer Pet
Exclusive by Lucy Laing and Dennis Ellam
WHEN Comet the golden retriever was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, his vet said there was only one solution – give the dog a bone marrow transplant. And the way his tail wags now, it seems Comet knows he is a medical marvel. His life was saved by a £30,000 stem cell transplant, the first of its kind performed on a canine. And the result has been spectacular. The eight-year-old golden retriever has finally been declared free of the cancer that almost killed him.
Comet was stricken with lymphoma, a cancer that attacks the immune system, and chemotherapy was no longer holding the disease at bay. He was given just a few months to live, as no dog had ever survived for more than a year after being diagnosed with lymphoma. “We watched our Comet become so ill,” said owner Nina Hallett, 68, who moved from London to Seattle 40 years ago. “One night I heard the back door creak open and I found him digging a hole under a bush – he was trying to crawl away to die.”
Comet’s vet Dr Edmund Sullivan decided that a transplant was his one final, albeit slim, hope. Nina and her lawyer husband Darrell, 63, seized it. They abandoned plans for a new kitchen and put the money towards their pet’s surgery instead – a staggering £30,000.
“We knew this kind of transplant had never been done before on a dog with his condition, but we also knew it was his one and only chance,” said Nina. “So we never hesitated. It wasn’t even a close decision. Whatever it took to save him, we would do it.”
But first they had to find a suitable donor. The mammoth search involved dozens of dogs and their owners across five states of America, and abroad.
But, first, here is an unbelievable article from a couple years back at the beginning of the ordeal . . .
What price a pet’s life? $45,000 to treat Comet
By Warren King, Seattle Times medical reporter
Comet is like many golden retrievers: gentle, devoted, enthusiastically greeting each day with his wagging, plumed tail. He loves to swim, run in the woods and pack around his large toy hamburger. But Comet is different. He’s one of very few dogs worldwide to receive a stem-cell transplant for cancer treatment, rather than primarily for research. Cost of the therapy: $45,000.
The Bainbridge Island dog got the transplant last summer after developing lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph tissue. Now, after a long, steady recovery, he is showing signs of being cured. The effort to save Comet involved dozens of dog lovers in five states and four countries, a renowned explorer in Honduras and a pioneering cancer center in Seattle.
His owners never flinched at the cost.