stem cell therapy in nanshan

what we don’t know about where we live.

it turns out that nanshan hospital, yes the nanshan hospital where i went for chinese medical treatments in the late nineties, the same nanshan hospital located just up the street from shenzhen university, where i lived and taught for years, is a center of stem cell therapy. indeed, it seems they recruit patiants abroad for treatments that they can’t get in their own country. an articlein businessweek introduces the controversy surrounding the work. or you can check out the shenzhen beike biotechnology website.

i’m sitting here stunned. not by my own ignorance, which increasingly feels like my most loyal companion, nor even by this version of shenzhen’s rush to an international future, which has been the city’s raison d’tre for over 25 years now, nor even, truth be told, by the ways the beike company seems to be exploiting these stories; testimonial advertizing is one of the traditions of my native land. no, i’m simply stunned. i don’t know how to comment on these stories, their existance, they way they circulate, how they are used. i’m grasping for a theory to explain what seems to be happening and the theory isn’t coming, or isn’t there to call up.

perhaps i just don’t know where to draw the ethical line. i don’t know if i’m for or against untested therapy. if for it, i know i’d support universal access, rather than letting the market determine access. if there’s not enough money or stem cells for everyone who needs treatment to get it, does that mean the treatment should be stopped until equal access is possible?

in the meantime, i turn to the comforts of close reading. one of the more fascinating aspects of this whole process is the role of the internet. patients have blogged and blog about their experiences, including pre-treatment conditions, what the treatment is like, and post-treatment improvements/regressions. the stories themselves are moving–from hopelessness to hope, and the courage that moves them. and yet. i’m stunned.

you can find a blogroll of these testimonial blogs at the beike site. i first stumbled upon these blogs through richard’s venture, a new blog. many of the patients use blogspot, which is blocked in the mainland, but if you’re reading this and in the mainland, you know how to get around the firewall. if not, does anyone know of chinese-language sites about beike? or is it a company that is designed to bring foreigners to china, kinda of like the adoption centers in guangzhou? another international practice that leaves me stunned.

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