Darryl Brewer still can’t believe what happened to him.
Five years ago, the 79-year-old was walking for more than hour each day. Then the discs in his back began to deteriorate to the point where he experienced so much pain, he could barely move.
In the spring, out of desperation, Brewer said he attended a seminar in Penticton about stem cell therapies for those suffering with chronic pain from an Idaho-based clinic. After his back surgery was delayed in Canada, he said he was so desperate for a solution he drove himself to Idaho for a consultation.
“I got up one morning and I couldn’t walk at all. So I decided to follow up the seminar with a consultation, which they paid for. I travelled to Idaho. They put me up in a hotel and then I consulted with them the following day,” he said.
The Keremeos resident said the clinic doctor warned him that the therapy doesn’t work on everyone and that he could only get half of the $5,000 he would pay for the therapy if that was the case. Brewer said he decided to take the treatment after the hour-long consultation.
“The pain was so severe that when you are desperate, you’d almost do anything to stop that pain.”
Three days after the stem cell treatment, which involved injecting the stem cells into the part of his back that was causing the issues, he said the pain completely disappeared. While he said he still had some discomfort he felt was normal for someone his age, the severe pain was gone.
“The treatment is so simple that it is mind boggling. They inject you with stem cells. They buy stem cells from the labs, remove the DNA from them and then introduce them back into me. Because they have no DNA, there is no possibility of rejection,” he said of how the treatment was explained to him at the clinic.
Stem cell therapy remains a controversial practice in Canada. In May, Health Canada announced it considers the therapy to be a type of drug treatment. It must go through rigorous reviews and be formally approved before being legally offered to the public. Health Canada has also recently been cracking down on clinics in provinces that offer the treatment, telling them to stop because there is a lack of clinical evidence saying the treatment is safe and the long-term adverse effects are still not known.
But now that Brewer said he can go back to his normal active routine, he said he is left disappointed and angry at the Canadian medical system, which he thinks only applies band aid solutions to people’s medical problems. He said he didn’t feel Canadian doctors were honest with him about his chances of recovery after the four-hour back surgery they said he would require.
“I’m not a young person and for all these years I have believed what our doctors and what our medical professionals have said was true,” he said.
“I could do nothing physically. Now I’m out in the yard everyday. I’m working, I’m landscaping my yard right now. I’m feeling that I am doing everything that I am doing and more than what I think I should be able to do.”