Expert: Turkey beats West in stem cell treatment

ANADOLU AGENCY
ANKARA
Published 16.03.2019 00:53

Turkey provides cutting-edge medical services, including stem cell transplants, to millions - including the refugees it hosts - said a Turkish professor of hematology.

Fevzi Altuntaş told Anadolu Agency (AA) that Turkey emulated developed countries in the West in its drive to offer patients high-end medical services.

Altuntaş, founder of Turkish cord blood and bone marrow storage bank Türkök and president of the World Apheresis Association since 2018, is one of the architects of Turkey's exponential medical progress. "Cancer treatment and especially stem cell research is a source of pride [for Turkey] and is probably the fastest growing medical practice in Turkey in the past decade with the number of stem cell transplants rising from the 200s to over 4600 annually," said Altuntaş.

He noted that thousands of patients, including dozens of refugees, were relieved of various ailments through the treatment in capital Ankara where Altuntaş is chief physician at an oncology hospital. He stressed that this is proof Turkey has already reached the league of superpowers. "Civilization is not all about GDP per capita; most countries cannot offer such high-end services even to their own citizens," Altuntaş said of the expensive and hard-to-perform procedure. He pointed out that the number of stem cell transplants carried out in Turkey is double the average in member countries of the EU and the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Turkey's social state and internationally accredited stem cell labs should be a source of pride, he said.Altuntaş added that people from all over the world come to Turkey for high-quality, low-cost stem cell treatment compared to the U.S. and Europe, expressing confidence that the procedure has the potential to be Turkey's niche product in health tourism, considering that 1 billion people live within a 4-hour radius. "The cost is $500,000 in the U.S., while it is around $20,000 for Turkish citizens and $60,000 for international patients in state-run institutions, and only rising up to $100,000 in private facilities," he said. Altuntaş said 500,000 donors currently donated blood and stem cells to Türkök, and they were already curing patients from more than 10 countries. He emphasized that its younger pool and modern equipment were what differentiated the bank from its counterparts. "Türkök is open to all patients in the world and has everything it takes to become a Turkish global brand in the health sector," Altuntaş said.

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