BASSETERRE, ST KITTS – Stem cell research and regenerative medicine are one and the same and medical internist, Dr. Terrance Drew has accused Minister of State with responsibility for Health, Hon. Wendy Phipps of misleading the nation when she stated that regenerative research was only taking place at the J N France General Hospital.
Dr. Drew, deputy chairman of the opposition St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) said Tuesday that the decision of the Timothy Harris-led PLP/CCM/PAM Cabinet to allow the stem cell research to begin in the private ward of the J. N. France General Hospital, without the knowledge of the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Patrick Martin, has turned the medical facility into a “rogue institution.”
He told a SKNLP press conference that while Stem Cell Research advancement is still in its early stages, the SKNLP is not against stem cell research.
“However we feel that we should follow the norm in medical research and make sure that we follow proper procedure and the ethics surrounding this type of research and in this instance all ethics were abused by minister Wendy Phipps, the Cabinet of the country and those who were forced to work on the regenerative stem cell research project at the J N France General Hospital,” said Dr Drew, who again issued a call for her resignation.
He raised several questions surrounding the project which began on June 13th 2016 without the knowledge of the Chief Medical Officer Dr. Patrick Martin who was sent on pre retirement leave when he took the necessary action to bring the procedure to a premature end.
“Where are we getting our stem cells from? We need to know. We need to know whether these stem cells are been harnessed from the umbilical cords of our children here in St Kitts and Nevis? We want to know if embryos in St Kitts and Nevis are been used for stem cell purposes? We want to know if dead babies are been used to harness these stem cells? These are very, very important questions that need to be answered by those who are involved,” said Dr. Drew a Cuban and US-trained internist.
Dr. Drew also pointed out that persons involved in stem cell research must be properly and pointed out that his medical colleagues Dr. Dwayne Archibald, Medical Chief of Staff, Dr. Cameron Wilkinson and the hospital Matron Sonia Daley-Findlay are not specialists in stem cell research.
“Who is in charge of this type of research here in St. Kitts and Nevis,” asked Dr. Drew.
“The J N France General Hospital has exposed itself as a rogue institution because it has not followed all of the ethics and norms with respect to this type of research. Our nurses were exposed. Our patients would have been exposed. Our institution lacks the necessary infrastructure as well the skilled and trained personnel to ensure that the procedures are done with a high degree of safety and protection of our people,” he said.
“The natural question is what dangers were our people exposed to? Were they exposed to infections that we know not of? Were they exposed to different diseases yet to be revealed and these questions are from an ethical or surgical standpoint that must be answered,” Dr. Drew said.