It’s hardly mainstream medicine, but advances in stem cell technology and organ transplantation have created opportunities for ghastly exploitation of babies and children by unscrupulous doctors. In the Ukraine, an on-going investigation by British journalists has raised questions over the disappearance of new-born babies from a hospital in the city of Kharkiv.
In spine-chilling article in the Daily Mail, Matthew Hill followed the trail of stem cells used by a shady clinic in Barbados. The Institute for Regenerative Medicine freely admits using stem cells from aborted babies in the Ukraine for treatments ranging from curing degenerative diseases to reversing ageing. An eminent British stem cell specialist, Dr Stephen Minger, is sceptical about the efficacy of the treatments and asked how the stem cells had been harvested. “They may just homogenise the whole embryo,” he said.
In the Ukraine, Hill pursued claims that infants had been snatched from women immediately after childbirth by hospital staff and dissected for their tissues. Their mothers had been told that the babies were stillborn or died at birth. The local authorities have now reluctantly allowed a post-mortem examination of around 30 babies. What the journalist saw in a gruesome video was consistent with organ theft and stem cell harvesting. Authorities at the local hospital have denied vehemently that the children were stolen or that their organs had been harvested. These claims, implausible as they may sound, are being taken seriously by the Council of Europe, which is conducting its own investigation.
And in Noida, a posh suburb of New Delhi, a local businessman and his servant have been arrested and charged with sexually abusing and murdering at least 17 children of poor servants and street vendors. The bioethical twist to this appalling tale of serial killings is that police are investigating whether the children’s organs might have been taken as well. Few torsos had been found amongst the remains, suggesting that organs had been removed. Police raided a nearby medical centre in search of evidence.
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