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Patient dies after stem cell treatment in Thailand

Discover Magazine’s blog has a story about a woman who died after receiving stem cell therapy in Thailand in an attempt to treat a severe kidney disease. The woman went into decline soon after her treatment. Within three months she required dialysis, within a year one kidney had failed, and within two years she had died. Doctors who performed a postmortem analysis of the kidneys stated that the treatment appeared to have had no positive effect and was in fact most likely the cause of her death. They also said that the way the treatment was not performed the normal way stem cells are administered, which is into the blood stream, but instead they were injected directly into the kidneys where strange growths formed at the sites of the injections.

The treatment was experimental and the patient was willing to risk it because she was expecting to die anyway from her disease. So that much we should be able to accept. The disturbing thing about this story is they say the procedure was performed at a “clinic” and they will not name the clinic. While the liability laws in Thailand must be carefully assessed, it certainly is critical that patients know the name of this clinic and the doctor because as the postmortem showed that despite it being an acknowledged experimental treatment there were some questionable techniques employed.

Some time ago there was news that Thailand would soon institute stricter rules for stem cell treatment. Perhaps the initiative for that action was related to this patient’s death.

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