A Cautionary Tale of ‘Stem Cell Tourism’

A Cautionary Tale of ‘Stem Cell Tourism’

Jim Gass is just one of tens of thousands of patients who travel outside the United States to international stem cell therapy centers. These centers promise miraculous cures to ailments such as muscular dystrophy, Alzheimer’s, and strokes using stem cell treatments. However, these therapies are often ineffective and, in many cases, harmful to patients due to the lack of proper regulation. Despite the inherent danger of attending these clinics, more and more patients flock to these sites in hopes of successful treatment to otherwise incurable ailments. Gass traveled to Mexico, China, and Argentina, for stem cell treatments to reverse the paralysis he developed after suffering a stroke. Gass returned to BWH where surgeons found an enormous mass filling the the lower part of his spinal column formed from stem cells that weren’t his. The doctors don’t know how to stop the tumor from growing and are currently out of options. Gass is now more disabled than he was before the stem cell treatments. Unfortunately, Gass’ cautionary tale is one of many.

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