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June 11, 2010

Costa Rica Shuts Down Popular Stem Cell Clinic

Medical tourism is a significant contributor to the Costa Rican economy, as anything from dental work to cancer treatments can be bought at a fraction of the cost, compared to countries like the United States. However, the health ministry has decided to close an unauthorized, but popular stem cell clinic in Costa Rica despite potential economic losses. The health ministry made this move as they say there is no concrete evidence showing that the stem cell treatments are effective or even safe. However, some of the patients are inclined to disagree.

Many of the patients feel that shutting down the clinic is a mistake as they expressed their opinions and shared stories of how the treatments have helped their conditions. A man who was paralyzed from the waist down said he noticed some feeling in his legs after the treatment, while another man, suffering from multiple sclerosis, told of how stem cell treatments helped him regain some of his basic functions.

However, due to a lack of controlled clinical testing, there is no way to determine if the patients were aided by the treatments or other factors. Because the safety and efficiency of stem cell treatments is not quite clear, experts are worried that many ill people are being taken advantage of. Yet, a woman who noticed an improvement in her condition after her $30,000 stem cell treatment in Costa Rica, shared how the $300,000 she’d spent on treatments in the United States had not helped her.