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2005-01-19 09:32:19

Slow Progress On Stem Cell Policy

The Flint Journal reported on Monday that Karen Pollack, who took her five-year-old daughter, Karly, to IAT for a stem cell procedure has reported disappointment.

The government is moving closer to drafting legislation to govern stem cell research in The Bahamas, but has not yet formulated a policy position on such work, Minister of Health Dr. Marcus Bethel said Monday.

He could not give a timetable for when such a bill would be introduced in the House of Assembly, but said widespread consultation from within the medical community is now taking place.

Last July, the Ministry of Health suspended stem cell work at the Immuno Augmentative Therapy Research Limited in Freeport, saying that proper legislation was not in place to govern such practice.

The suspension came after the Ministry launched an investigation into work at the facility, following a series of Bahama Journal articles that revealed the research and treatment were taking place.

Dr. Bethel said on Monday that the clinic, which is involved in cancer care, remains open in Grand Bahama.

Meanwhile, the miracle one American family had been hoping for from IAT has not materialized, according to one Michigan newspaper.

The Flint Journal reported on Monday that Karen Pollack, who took her five-year-old daughter, Karly, to IAT for a stem cell procedure has reported disappointment.

“We saw a tiny bit of improvement, and then nothing,' Mrs. Pollack was reported as saying. She said her family spent $20,000 on medical treatment and travel.

“It hasn't done anything for her,' Mrs. Pollack said.

Last year, following the procedure, she told the Bahama Journal, “We are believing that this will be her miracle.'

The child was born with a disease similar to multiple sclerosis and improvements in her condition had been expected six to eight months after the stem cell procedure.

Dr. John Clement, IAT medical director, told the Bahama Journal last year that stem cells being grown at the centre come from the umbilical cords of live births and not from aborted material.

But he was forced to discontinue the practice because Ministry of Health officials said he did not follow proper procedure required for conducting medical research in The Bahamas.

At the time, Dr. Bethel said authorities wanted to send the message that The Bahamas is not a playground for unapproved medical research.

Candia Dames, The Bahama Journal

 
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