Joost puts body on the line

2011-08-25 00:00

“I’M going to fight this thing. Don’t worry, I’m not going to die too soon,” said Joost van der Westhuizen at a media conference in Midrand yesterday to announce that he is undergoing experimental stem cell treatment in a desperate attempt to cure his motor neuron disease.

Dr Jody Pearl, a specialist neurologist, said the treatment was developed by Doctor Steve Ray, a British neuron-scientist.

The SA Rugby Legends Association has offered to collect money for Van der Westhuizen’s medical costs.

“The treatment was not an overnight decision. I spent a long time with the doctors,” Van der Westhuizen said.

Three weeks ago fat cells were harvested from his body during a minor surgical procedure. Netcells Cryogenics isolated his mesenchymal stem cells, which also appear in ­babies’ umbilical cords and can help to repair damaged cells in the body.

Ray’s patented technique was used to develop a product with which Van der Westhuizen was injected. He said his treatment offers no guarantees, but he stands to lose nothing, and could possibly help contribute to a cure.

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