Originally, Karthik Ramachandran and Lisa Stehno-Bittel were just trying to solve a business problem for their biotech company, Likarda LLC. But their solution could have big benefits for medical research everywhere.
Likarda is the creator of a diabetes treatment for dogs and cats, and it needs pancreata for testing purposes. Instead of buying and euthanizing test animals, the company decided to start Cheri’s Hope, an organ donation network for pets.
It’s an idea that’s caught the attention of researchers here in Kansas City and across the country. Stehno-Bittel and Ramachandran are now looking for ways to scale up operations nationally and even internationally.
Cheri’s Hope is named for the late Dr. Cheri Ann Jones, a veterinarian who was an early supporter of the organ donation network. Jones practiced at State Line Animal Hospital, which is one of two places where pet owners can bring their dogs and cats for organ donation. (The other is Wayside Waifs.)
Response from pet owners has been very strong, Ramachandran said. “Just like in the human world, it’s a good feeling to know you could save a pet’s life or many pets’ lives by supporting the research.”