|10-18-2007, 12:22 PM||#1|
Join Date: May 2007
Location: London, UK
Is this another snake oil clinic?
The following is a transcript from a South Africa cable TV channel called Carte Blanche. Source: http://www.carteblanche.co.za/Displa...ay.asp?Id=3131
This Cape Town couple, American model Laura Brown and South African Steve Van Rooyen, are on the FBI wanted list. They didn't rob banks and they aren't serial killers; they were offering desperate people an underground medical procedure making headlines around the world.
Moky Makura (Carte Blanche presenter): 'Stem cell therapy is unproved and highly controversial, but that doesn't stop desperate people trawling the Internet where new companies are springing up all the time.' There are many South Africans who swear by stem cells. Injured in a car accident five years ago, Dr Cival Mills has 'locked in syndrome', a rare neurological condition that left the former rugby star unable to move a muscle.
Moky: 'What's it like living in your body?' He's able to communicate via a computer. Dr Cival Mills (Stem Cell Patient): 'It's hell.' Every day he follows a punishing six-hour routine of equestrian, occupational speech and physical therapy. He couldn't even swallow his own saliva, but now he's able to talk a little, take a few steps and stand on his own.
Cival: 'I have done the amazing and achieved the impossible with lots of help. I have now regained strength in all my muscles.' He says the turning point for him was a stem cell transplant, administered in Kiel, Germany by controversial naturopath George Von Falkenhayn. Cival: 'I believed we were at the door. The only question was: were we brave enough to step through? This is the future. I wanted to be part of it!' Stem cells are a basic biological repair kit with the capacity to become any of 200 specialised cells in the body and the potential to repair or replace damaged tissues. In recent years a flurry of promising research has raised the expectations of the terminally ill and disabled. Many, like Dr Mills, are not prepared to wait for proper scientific trials.
Cival: 'I was willing to be test subject. When they succeeded, and I think they have, it will give hope to the hopeless. It will be a giant leap for mankind.' Over three years, George Von Falkenhayn has treated a hundred patients with spinal injuries, claiming a 50% success rate. He says stem cells have been used by at least five million people for over 70 years, with no harm done. We spoke to him in Pretoria where he was evaluating new patients. George Von Falkenhayn (Naturopath): 'I think it is much safer than taking an aspirin.' Because he is unlicensed and the treatment is illegal in South Africa, patients like Cival must travel to Germany for the treatment. George: 'Before, he was not able to focus on you, or something in the room. And the next day he was able to focus and that was a good sign of improvement.' Some treatments available use human foetal and cord blood cells, fuelling a global black market trade in human tissues… but Doctor Von Falkenhayn uses foetal rabbit cells. He says this minimises risk of passing on disease and human genetic faults. George: 'As it is information and regeneration therapy, the wrong informed cells of your body get the right information to behave like healthy cells behave.' Stem cells don't come cheap. Once patients have coughed up at least (SA) R170,000 (25,014.18USD or 12,219.63GBP), the rabbit cells are prepared in Slovakia. In the Kiel clinic the patient undergoes a vigorous detox program before stem cells are injected into the spine and stomach muscles. It is believed they migrate to the site of injury and repair the damage.
Professor Harry Seftel (Wits Medical School): 'To my knowledge I don't know of any studies that either he has done or anybody else has done that has proven the efficacy or safety of stem cell transplantation in quadriplegia and paraplegia.' Professor emeritus of medicine at Wits, Harry Seftel says there are considerable risks involved.
Harry: 'For example, there could be infection; there could be rejection and all the consequences of rejection; and these can have very serious effects on the patient.' Von Falkenhayn's spinal injury patients follow their transplants with three months of intensive physiotherapy. George: 'We set up basics, and the patient and the treatment afterwards will fulfill the whole thing.'
Head of Rehabilitation at Meulmed Hospital in Pretoria, Melanie Skeen says it's the physio and not the stem cells causing the improvements. Dr Melanie Skeen (Head of Physiotherapy: Meulmed Hospital): 'If stem cells were the answer we wouldn't have a spinal unit full of paraplegics and quadriplegics. I have patients here, who don't get stem cells, who walked after a spinal injury.' She has evaluated three stem cell patients and says the placebo effect may be at work. Melanie: 'If you pay so much money to have stem cells put in that your psyche has to be positive about it.'
Harry: 'Apart from the fact that it is costing a fortune, it is giving these people false hope. It is medically and morally and ethically wrong to offer forms of treatment to what, in fact, are very serious problems.' But we've talked to dozens with spinal injuries who claim stem cells do work and they have had small improvements. They say they don't mind being guinea pigs, because they have nothing to lose.
Moky: 'Imagine losing your independence and your mobility… wouldn't you do anything that offered even the slightest glimmer of hope?' Ari Seirlis (National Director: Quad-Para Association S.A.): 'Everybody who I know who is a quadriplegic or paraplegic would like to walk again.' Ari Seirlis, national director of the Quad-Para Association was injured while acting in an advert 22 years ago. He's taken quadriplegia in his stride, and was a friend of the late Christopher Reeve - the most well known proponent of stem cell research. Ari: 'I have always supported any agency or people who raise funds for stem cell research because I think a cure will come from that. But never have I yet been in a position to commit myself or my body to be an experiment to somebody who has now come up with the story that they can improve my agility through stem cell treatment.'
Moky: 'But could it be that Dr Von Falkenhayn is just ahead of his time?' Ari: 'Absolute nonsense. I think he is wise; I think he's probably a good businessman, and he is just robbing hope from people who can afford it.'
Moky: 'The problem with stem cells is that there is no regulatory framework and this underground nature of stem cell therapy creates the perfect environment for dodgy practitioners to thrive.'
My comment: I have looked up Dr Von Falkenhayn’s clinic at http://www.alternative-medicine-natu...alkenhayn.html and http://www.von-falkenhayn.com/index-engl.html --- and to be honest does not instil me with any confidence whatsoever. I also found out that his clinic is promoted on this site which claims to produce stem cell lines for therapy --- http://stem-cell-transplantation.com/index.html#link14
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