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.
Fourth woman in hospital after blood transfusion beauty therapy
Clients fell ill after undergoing blood transfusion procedure usually used to treat cancer patients
A fourth woman was admitted to hospital yesterday after having the same blood transfusion beauty therapy that has left three others critically ill.
Two of the three women, aged 46 and 56 - who were admitted on Wednesday and Thursday - remain in critical condition in Ruttonjee Hospital in Wan Chai.
A 60-year-old who was admitted to St Teresa's Hospital, Kowloon City, on Thursday had been transferred to Kwun Tong's United Christian Hospital last night. All the victims suffered septic shock, a result of a severe infection.
A Department of Health spokesman said an investigation had revealed that a total of 44 people had undergone the treatment, known as DC-CIK, for cosmetic reasons. It is normally used to prolong the survival rate of cancer patients after surgery, radiation or chemotherapy, and involves a transfusion of specially processed blood.
While medical professionals and beauty industry experts are demanding tighter laws to protect consumers undergoing cosmetic procedures, the health department spokesman confirmed that all 44 of the treatments had been conducted by a registered medical practitioner.
The latest victim is a 59-year-old woman who underwent a transfusion on September 29. She was last night in stable condition at Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Meanwhile, crime-squad officers and health officials are jointly investigating the DR beauty clinic, which has 42 outlets in Hong Kong.
The three critically ill women received the treatment at DR's Causeway Bay centre. They paid HK$60,000 to HK$80,000 each, the police said. The centre remained open yesterday, but plastered its windows with white paper. Two clients arrived to angrily demand their money back after paying for other treatments.
The beauty centre also confirmed in a statement that a registered doctor had conducted the treatments.
Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man said the seriousness of these cases had stunned him. He believed the treatment would count as a "medical procedure" and had to be done by a doctor or under the authority of one.
Yesterday, detectives took away syringes and other medical waste from the beauty chain's laboratory at the Biotech Centre in Sha Tin's Science Park and another laboratory in Sham Shui Po.
DR has huge advertisements in prominent places such as the harbour tunnel exits.
In a video interview with mainland media, Dr Stephen Chow Heung-wing, who founded DR in 1995, called the extraction and re-injection of stem cells for clients "very effective" for enlarging breasts or rejuvenating facial skin.
Hong Kong's official doctor's registry shows that Chow graduated from the University of Hong Kong's medical school in 1979.
Jennifer Cheng, Clifford Lo, Jolie Ho and Stuart Lau