Jun 242013
Three politicians from Mindanao had reportedly died after receiving stem cell treatment in Germany, although it was not established yet if the deaths were directly connected to the treatment, the head of the biggest association of doctors in the country said Monday.

According to Leo Olarte of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA), the politicians may have died due to “anaphylactic shock” following a hypersensitivity reaction to the stem cells from animals, especially sheep.

Anaphylaxis is a deadly allergic reaction that causes difficulty in breathing and sudden drop in blood pressure.

“Kapag ikaw ay nabigyan ng stem cell galing sa tupa, aatakihin ng katawan ‘yan kasi ito ay hindi inherent sa katawan… Magkakaroon ng hypersensitivity reaction na magdudulot ng anaphylactic shock sa pasyente,” Olarte said in a phone interview with GMA News Online.

He also cited possible death due to delayed graft function, which is a complication after an organ transplantation.

The politicians, who were not identified as requested by their families, had illnesses in the lungs, heart and liver before the treatment, Olarte said.

However, he was quick to add that it has yet to be proven if the stem cell treatment was the real cause of the three politicians’ deaths.

“Ito ay mga hearsay pa lang,” he said. “Baka naman namatay dahil sa kanilang orihinal na sakit.”

He said the families of the deceased are coordinating with the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police for further investigation.

Treatments in hotels

Meanwhile, Olarte urged the public to undergo stem cell therapy only from accredited doctors who are members of the Philippine Society for Stem Cell Medicine.

He said they have received reports that unaccredited foreign doctors are doing stem cell treatment on patients in five-star hotels.

“Bawal ‘yan dahil sila ay walang lisensya dito sa Pilipinas,” Olarte said.

According to Section 8 of the Medical Act of 1959, only those who passed board exams and have certificates of registration are allowed to practice medicine in the country.

Olarte also said five-star hotels do not have the equipment in case of medical emergency following a stem cell treatment.

“Delikado ito. Walang kagamitan sa five-star hotel kung sakaling mayroong emergency condition ang mga pasyente,” he said.

Meanwhile, the families of the victims may only file their complaints before the German Embassy in the country since the doctors in question are not under the country’s jurisdiction.

“Wala kasi tayong jurisdiction sa mga duktor ng Alemanya kung sakali mang sila ang sanhi sa kamatayan ng mga pasyente,” he said.

Health secretary Enrique Ona, in a statement July last year, said only stem cells from human bone marrow, blood, and umbilical cords are safe.

Several prominent politicians had underwent stem cell therapy, including former President Joseph Estrada, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile. — KBK, GMA News

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