Fetal Tissue: No Panacea for Parkinson’s


It has been 15 years since doctors first plucked brain tissue from an aborted human fetus and transplanted it into the brain of a Parkinson’s disease patient with the hope of curing the disease.

Since then, more than 360 patients in at least 17 centers worldwide have undergone variations of the controversial experiment, but none has been cured. Media headlines occasionally tout “progress” and “promise” in the field, and fetal tissue experimenters continue to recruit Parkinson’s sufferers for tax-funded surgical research. But the public rarely hears about the documented side effects of fetal tissue transplants, including at least one death.

Experiment Gone Awry

Astudy published in the May 1996 issue of Neurology describes the case of a 52-year-old American man who traveled to China for fetal transplants to treat his uncontrollable tremors and frequent freezing spells. Just six weeks after surgery, he and his wife were convinced he was getting better — his speech was less slurred, his expression more animated, his gait steadier. Twenty-three months later, however, he woke up feeling very tired one morning. He went back to sleep and his wife noticed his “funny halted breathing.” She sent for an ambulance. When it arrived, he was pronounced dead…

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