Joost gambles on treatment

2011-08-25 06:45
Joost van der Westhuizen (File)

Antoinette Pienaar

Pretoria - "I'm going to fight this thing. Don’t worry, I’m not going to die too soon,” said Joost van der Westhuizen at a media conference in Midrand on Wednesday to announce that he is undergoing experimental stem cell treatment in a desperate attempt to cure his motor neuron disease.

Dr Jody Pearl, a specialist neurologist, said the treatment was developed by Doctor Steve Ray, a British neuron-scientist.

The SA Rugby Legends Association has offered to collect money for Van der Westhuizen’s medical costs.

“The treatment was not an overnight decision. I spent a long time with the doctors,” Van der Westhuizen said.

Three weeks ago fat cells were harvested from his body during a minor surgical procedure. Netcells Cryogenics isolated his mesenchymal stem cells, which also appear in babies’ umbilical cords and can help to repair damaged cells in the body.

Ray’s patented technique was used to develop a product with which Van der Westhuizen was injected. He said his treatment offers no guarantees, but he stands to lose nothing, and could possibly help contribute to a cure.


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