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.
Head of DR Beauty chain questioned by police after transfusion death
DR Beauty chain head is probed after death of woman, 46, following high-risk transfusion
The boss of a chain of beauty clinics was questioned by detectives yesterday after high-risk blood transfusions left one woman dead and three in hospital.
Dr Stephen Chow Heung-wing, head of DR Beauty, was seen entering police headquarters in Admiralty early yesterday accompanied by two men.
He left the headquarters in a seven-seater vehicle more than an hour later.
Police refused to comment officially on why he was there, but they did say that no one has been charged so far.
The development came as health chiefs revealed they were preparing official guidelines which would bar beauty industry staff providing high-risk medical treatments.
Four women suffered septic shock after receiving a blood transfusion "health therapy" at DR Beauty centres in Causeway Bay and Mong Kok.
One perfectly healthy 46-year-old women who was a patient at the Causeway Bay clinic, died on Tuesday while the other three remain in hospital.
One is in critical condition, another is in a serious condition and the third is stable. All four were found to have contracted a rare and deadly superbug.
Undersecretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu said yesterday police were collecting evidence from witnesses who were involved in the treatment and consulting experts on medical procedures.
"Some professional medical procedures were involved in this case, so different evidence needs to be collected from experts," he said.
To tackle current unscrupulous practices in the beauty business, the Department of Health's Dr Constance Chan Hon-yee announced yesterday that the government would draw up guidelines in the next few months.
Chan is chairwoman of a taskforce reviewing the operation of beauty salons. She said the most pressing issue was to clearly define "high-risk" treatments.
She said: "There is no current law to pinpoint the problem, but we will clearly define what is classified as a medical treatment."
The new guidelines would make it clear that beauty practitioners may not perform high-risk therapies, which by law can be carried out only by doctors, she said.
But Dr Tse Hung-hing, president of the Medical Association, cast doubt on this approach to the problem, saying that often the beauty centres would hire doctors to perform such therapies. He doubted whether any guidelines would be legally enforceable.
"A guideline is only to explain clearly what is medical treatment. Without a law to ban this behaviour, it will be useless," Tse said.
Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man would not rule out the possibility that regulations would need changing after a citywide review of private health care institutions.
DR Beauty founder Chow was a private family doctor before he founded the business in 1995.
It now has 40 branches across Hong Kong and claims to have 300,000 members or clients.