Sick warned against falling for 'stem cell' tourism

Janelle Miles

October 25, 2008 12:00am



A NEW type of traveller dubbed the stem cell tourist is worrying Australian scientists and doctors who say the vulnerable ill are being duped.

Australians with debilitating and sometimes terminal diseases are spending tens of thousands of dollars for unproved stem cell treatments in Third World countries.

Many, such as Townsville paraplegic Asti Poole, are coming home out of pocket, and extremely let down, after seeing little or no improvement in their conditions.

Ms Poole, 28, went to an infertility specialist's clinic in India last year for two months of embryonic stem cell treatment.

Four other Australians were also at the clinic receiving treatment for spinal cord injuries. None has shown significant improvement.

"We'd all joke that we were getting our dose of water for the day," Ms Poole recalls.

"It just looked like they had filled a needle up with water.

"We used to joke that we were all being conned. None of us are miraculously walking."


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