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Stem Cell Treatments Offering Heartbreak Instead of Help In China

The treatments, which are often experimental and not supported by scientific evidence, cost thousands of dollars - sometimes more - and have not only been unsuccessful, but have resulted in several deaths.


Third Age, Emily Jacobson, Sep 21, 2011

Stem cell therapies are leading to devastating results for some patients with incurable diseases in China.

The treatments, which are often experimental and not supported by scientific evidence, cost thousands of dollars – sometimes more – and have not only been unsuccessful, but have resulted in several deaths.

For example, Hong Chun, a hotel manager, was having trouble using chopsticks after a minor stroke, and went in for a stem cell treatment where he was injected with donor stem cells. The next day, when he attempted to leave the hospital, the 27-year-old became sick and had to be rushed to another hospital, where he was pronounced brain dead. He died one month later.

Reuters reports that Hong paid 30,000 yuan (equivalent to $4,800) for the treatment. Chun’s father, Hong Gensho, was told by the hospital’s administrators not to pursue the matter. They gave him 80,000 yuan.

"I am miserable, it's like my son was worth only 80,000 yuan,” said Gensho, ABC quoted. “It's not about money. Our human rights, our place in this society, are not respected. I am devastated. If he hadn't sought treatment, he would not have died. I can't get my son back, but people must know about these stem cell therapies and no one must be deceived."

The only stem cell treatments that have been proven to work are bone marrow transplants for diseases like leukemia. Experts caution that there are no proven stem cell therapies for other conditions like liver cirrhosis and stroke.

Signs of scams include being asked for large amounts of money up front, being told there are no risks to the procedure, and not being offered post-treatment care. 

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