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
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.