Risky Blood Therapy
One woman died and three were critically ill after paying HK$50,000 in October 2012 for "anti-cancer" blood transfusion therapy at a beauty centre. In the procedure, blood is drawn from the patient, then processed to harvest the "cytokine-induced killer cells", or CIK, found in the white blood cells. The CIK cells are multiplied in a culture solution and injected into the patient along with their own blood after two weeks. The founder of the DR beauty company that carried out the treatment, Dr Stephen Chow Heung-wing, has admitted there was no evidence the treatment worked.
Blood treatment should not be done in beauty salon, says specialist
The medical treatment that led to three women falling critically ill this week is usually used to treat cancer and should never be performed in a beauty salon, a blood specialist says.
Dr Bernard Chan said he was puzzled that such treatment was available at a salon. The haematologist added that the technology used was also too costly for it to be marketed commercially.
"I would have known who is offering this service in Hong Kong but as far as I know, this is not commercialised," said Chan, an adviser to Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital.
The government last night confirmed the women, along with some 40 others, had received treatment known as "DC-CIK" at branches of the DR beauty salon chain, which says it outsourced the medical treatment to a third party.
Other doctors said the treatment, which involves extracting a patient's blood and injecting it back after reprocessing, can lead to contamination if handled badly.
The women suffered septic shock, which could involve organ failure and can potentially be fatal, after receiving the treatment. Septic shock is caused by serious infection resulting in life-threatening low blood pressure.
Chan said such cell therapies carry little risk, but can be dangerous if not done properly.
Dr Louis Shih Tai-cho, a dermatologist, said the government should regulate beauty salons more tightly. " This shouldn't be done at a beauty salon. It should be done in a medical setting," he said.
Yip Sai-hung, founding chairman of the Federation of Beauty Industry (Hong Kong), said the salon's procedures were carried out by a registered medical practitioner. But he admitted that consumers should be given more information about the procedures and potential hazards.
Consumer Council chief Connie Lau Yin-hing said complicated procedures should not be marketed by beauty salons whose staff might not have sufficient medical knowledge.
She also questioned whether the medical practitioner and the salon each had a cut of the revenue - which would be unethical. "If you are aggressively selling some rare and unknown treatment, how can customers' rights be protected?" she said.