Hungary: Siberian tiger receives stem-cell surgery for joint pain

Hungary: Siberian tiger receives stem-cell surgery for joint pain

Hungarian veterinarians operated on Wednesday on the first Siberian tiger to receive a Lipogems stem-cell treatment for a hip joint problem.

The Lipogems surgery is a stem-cell procedure that uses the patient's own fatty tissues to get regenerative stem cells that can cure the injured joints. It's been successfully used to treat human joints in the past.

The procedure was invented in 2010 by Dr. Carlo Tremolada, an Italian plastic surgeon that used it for plastic and cosmetic surgery.

Igor, the Siberian tiger at the Szeged Zoo in southern Hungary, has been suffering from joint pains for many years and needed an operation. Doctors decided to apply the Lipogems surgery in a one-day intervention.

REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo
Veterinarian, Robert Gippert (R) performs non invasive stem cell surgery on Igor, the 13 year-old Siberian tiger in Zoo Szeged, Hungary.REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

“Igor’s hip joint will be treated like the hip joint of a human being. During the stem-cell joint treatment process, a small amount of fatty tissue is taken from the patient’s — in this case Igor, the tiger’s — body, which after mechanical purification is implanted during a 45 to 60 minute procedure into the joint in need of treatment,” said Dr. Róbert Gippert, Leading Veterinarian at the Ro-Vet Small Animal Clinic in Kaposvár, before the operation.

“Just like in humans, the worn out joint of Igor, the tiger will heal due to the regenerative and self-healing effects of stem cells, without the use of external materials,” he added.

József Veres, Managing Director of Metropolitan Consulting Kft., and Hungarian business partner of the Lipogems process, expressed confidence that Igor's hip pain would be dramatically reduced or even eliminated.

"The tiger would be able to live the rest of his days without joint pain," he said.