Stem Cell "Cure" Gives Him Tumour
Stem cell therapy is illegal, unlicensed and dangerous.
The patient Mr Jim Gass had suffered a stroke in 2009. Two years on, he was able to walk only with a leg brace and a cane. He had read about seemingly miraculous recoveries through stem cell treatments, which are offered by a growing number of unregulated and unlicensed clinics in places such as China, Mexico, South America and even Europe. The clinics have websites which claim to offer stem cell treatment for various diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and stroke.
These websites would feature glowing testimonials. They also often claim to be doing clinical trials, giving a false impression that they are providing legal services.
Attracted to these marketing claims, Mr Gass made multiple trips to these clinics, despite the best advice from his family and doctors. These clinics were under the company called Stemedica. Including travel expenses, the total cost had come to nearly US$300,000.
6 months later he felt a sudden pain in his back, and started to lose his ability to walk. When the doctors examined him, they found that the stem cells had caused a frightening growth to appear in his spine and over a period of a few months, it had almost filled his entire spine. The tumour was still growing with no way to remove it. He is now paralysed from neck down and is wheelchair-bound.
The experience of Mr Gass is an example of countless of other patients who have suffered tragic consequences from stem-cell treatment in their quest for a cure. Many of these patients had paid large sums of money to illegal or unethical clinics which promise them cures for all kinds of diseases. Many more patients seek the treatment for promoting health or beauty.
Stem cell therapy currently remains at an experimental phase. Scientists and doctors say the stem cells may hold enormous promise, but are presently not widely used to treat humans because of the risk that stem cells can divide rapidly and transform to cancer cells.
This story serves as a cautionary tale for all: If something sounds too good to be true, it is.