For a dog at death’s door, my 16 year old pug Jelly has been doing pretty well. In fact, ever since we brought her back home to die last Friday after receiving a hopeless diagnosis from two local vets, she’s been as animated as ever. In fact, I’d be so bold as to say she bounced back – if not for the test results that point to kidney failure and antibiotic resistant E coli coursing through her system. Euthanasia was recommended and I was fully prepared to follow this advice, treating my girl to one final weekend of muffins, ice cream and some of the 60 day old dry-aged steak I had for dinner the other night. Except…the following morning, she was up and alert. Her appetite had returned. And she was as cantankerous as ever. So I decided to hold off…temporarily…
A little over five years ago, Jelly all but stopped walking. It turned out her hip dysplasia had progressed to the point where she was no longer capable of supporting herself. Euthanasia was recommended. Over five years ago! I considered my options, then generated some new ones by going online and discovering the marvels of stem cell treatments. They’ve been seeing some surprising results with this procedure – in Europe – a procedure that involves extracting the body’s stem cells (from belly fat which apparently has the highest concentration of the stuff), shipping them to a lab where they are spun in a centrifuge, then shipped back and injected into the problem areas: in Jelly’s case, her arthritic joints and eroded hips. I contacted this company (http://www.vet-stem.com), took Jelly in for a consult (where I was told results varied so not to expect too much), and had her undergo the treatment. A couple of weeks later, she was back on her paws – wobbly, mind you, but once again able to support herself.
So, faced with a similar dire situation, I once again turned to the one place that had helped me in the past: the internet. And there, I discovered a possible cure for presumably untreatable antibiotic-resistant infections: phage therapy.
I read this article about a woman who had been given a “you’ve got an untreatable antibiotic-resistant infection so prepare to die” diagnosis:
Instead of packing up her belongings and resigning herself to certain death, she packed up her belongings and headed to Europe where phage therapy has been used for over a decade with great success. She underwent the treatment and was miraculously (?) cured of her incurable infection.
From the aforementioned article:
“Bacteriophages (“bacteria eaters”), commonly called phages, are viruses that infect bacteria but not humans. Found in water, soil, and even your digestive tract, phages dwell wherever bacteria are found because they rely on them to reproduce. (Find out how what you eat affects your gut bacteria.) They drill through a bacterium’s surface, hijack its DNA, and then replicate themselves within it until the cell bursts. Cocktails of phage viruses can kill a bacterial infection in the human body with remarkable accuracy, taking out only the infiltrators and leaving important populations of “good” bacteria intact—unlike the blunt tool of antibiotics, which tend to wipe out a wide swath of good bugs and bad.”
Apparently, it’s been researched for a while here in North America with very positive results:
But, of course, the FDA (in the U.S.) and Health Canada (here) have yet to make this treatment readily available. Why? Rose-tinted glasses-wearing observers will argue it’s because they’re being very careful. Cvidently, a decade of positive results in Europe isn’t quite enough for them.
Anyway, I dispatched some emails this weekend and made some inquiries. The wheels are in motion to get Jelly the treatment.
Maybe we’ll see a miracle bounce back like we did the last time everyone else wrote her off. Or maybe we won’t. But at the very least, we’ll have TRULY exhausted our options.