Wealthy 75-year-old seeks fountain of youth

THAILAND - Hoping to live longer, look young forever and enjoy his wealth, a 75-year-old billionaire has spent nearly Bt1 million (S$40,000) on a visit to a private clinic in Luxembourg to undergo stem-cell therapy using cells from a black sheep's placenta to treat several degenerative conditions.

"I am not concerned about the side-effects of such treatment. I want to stay young, ageing gracefully until the age of 98, and spend all the money that I have been saving up for my whole life," said Nut Sri-feungfung, who owned an industrial estate in Prachin-buri province's Kabin Buri district.

Nut has suffered from diabetes for several years. He underwent treatment at a clinic but his health failed to improve. The clinic merely gave him pills to control the level of sugar in his blood.

He searched for information on how to cure his |condition and found that a medical institute in Beijing offered stem-cell treatment for diabetes. But the institute was charging Bt3 million for such treatment. He decided against going there because he was informed that the quality of treatment in Beijing was not as good as stem-cell treatment in Luxembourg.

So, he made the decision to visit a private clinic and medical-tourism agency located in Bangkok's Asoke area. He was offered a treatment costing nearly Bt1 million in Luxembourg, where he would receive therapy using stem cells from a black sheep's placenta. The treatment covered nine degenerative conditions. Extra stem-cell injections could be provided for Bt50,000 per shot.

He was asked to undergo a blood test to check whether his blood cells would match the stem cells from the black sheep.

Clinic staff used a tablet computer to explain to Nut the treatment and showed him many photos of celebrities and politicians who had undergone stem-cell treatment at the Luxembourg clinic.

However, Dr Naiphinich Kotchabhakdi of Mahidol University's Research Centre for Neuroscience warned that undergoing treatment with stem cells extracted from animals could have adverse side-effects, as the animal cells could be contaminated by viruses.