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.
Beauty centre customers carry on despite risks
While beauty centres have seen clients stay away in droves since the death of a patient in October, thousands of Hong Kong women still pay for beauty treatments - despite the risks.
One woman who agreed to share her experience said she would continue to use beauty centres.
She also hoped new regulations in the wake of the tragedy at a DR Beauty centre would not mean the end of low-cost and easily available treatments.
Four women suffered septic shock after a blood transfusion and one of them later died of a superbug. But the 27-year-old public relations manager said: "Visiting the salon is just a trendy thing for girls to do alone or in a pack. In there, they can relax and enjoy the service. It is a totally different experience from visiting a doctor … who may make you feel very nervous."
She continues to spend around HK$2,000 for various cosmetic treatments and also has a Botox injection every year. But she opted against the risky treatment that left a woman dead.
"Of course, I am terrified by the tragic mistake. I was actually being persuaded to join a package which is similar to the blood transfusion provided by DR - luckily I did not buy it as it sounded too scary for me.
"It is normal for girls of our age to try to retain their prettiness, but one has to be rational. "
She added: "The Botox costs around HK$6,000 per injection in beauty centres, which is performed by a hired doctor. I've checked the price for the same injection in private clinics owned by specialists and it will cost me double. I can't afford that."