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Stem Cell Treatment Gives Retired Military Service Dog New Lease on Life

Military Dog Lex

Retired military service dog Lex, 9, was adopted by Jerome and Rachel Lee in Dec. 2007, after he nearly lost his life trying to save their late son Cpl. Dustin Lee, 20, from a rocket attack in Iraq in March 2007. (MyFoxDC.com)

A retired military service dog is getting a new lease on life in Washington, D.C., after undergoing a revolutionary stem cell treatment.

Lex, a 9-year-old German shepherd, lost his best friend, 20-year-old Cpl. Dustin Lee, and nearly lost his own life in a rocket attack in Iraq on March 21, 2007.

"He suffered a lot of shrapnel wounds, has a piece of shrapnel still in his spine, almost lost his tail," Lee's father, Jerome Lee, told MyFoxDC.com.

Jerome Lee and his wife, Rachel Lee, wanted to be there for Lex the way they say he had been there for their son, so with the help of North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones they persuaded the Marine Corps to retire Lex early so they could adopt him in December 2007.

But once Lex was home, the Lees noticed that the shrapnel lodged in his spine was causing him debilitating back and joint pain, preventing him from walking on his own.

"He's got young bones. His bone density is as good as a young dogs, but we knew something was wrong because he was going down," Rachel Lee told the station.

Thanks to a revolutionary stem cell treatment from Georgetown veterinarian Dr. Lee Morgan, they hope that will no longer be a problem.

The cutting-edge treatment helps dogs grow new cartilage by injecting stem cells from their own fat, normally from the abdomen, into the affected joint. The treatment takes about three days and has an 80 percent success rate, MyFoxDC.com reported.

"When I saw him walking down the hall he wasn't hopping or giving in as much, and I could tell (the treatment) has already started working," Rachel said. "I feel that with physical therapy and the love that we're giving him, as he's a part of our family, it's just gonna get better."

Doctors say the dog could make a full recovery in as little as two months.

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