China Syndrome: Detesting Human Beings

July 15, 2008 09:00 AM

Just last evening, while on a family vacation, my husband and I saw a television special regarding the selling of little children in various provinces of China. Entitled China's Stolen Children, the program deals with the epidemic of child kidnapping (70,000 annually) that appears to be occurring because couples with children are desperate for money. Moreover, many parents fear that if a little girl is born, China's one-child policy will prevent the couple from having a son. As tragic as this program is and as appalled as we were after watching it, everyone should realize that, for decades, China has had policies and a corresponding enforcement agency that are perhaps the most heartless in the entire world.

As a matter of fact, just days ago we also learned that in China a "snake oil" con is being played upon unsuspecting families. A report in Medical News Today tells us,

Recent newspaper stories including several from Missouri – have reported parents flying their children to main land China for umbilical cord stem cell (CSC) infusions. The cost of these treatments, paid for entirely out-of-pocket by the parents, can be $50,000 or more. CSCs are extracted from the umbilical cords of Chinese mothers and their newborns and injected into the fluid around the spinal cord of the American children. The parents are led to believe by Chinese doctors that these CSCs are an effective treatment for optic nerve hypoplasia (ONH), a disease causing partial blindness at birth.

However, as pediatric ophthalmologists are quick to point out, there are various ways of treating those children suffering from optic nerve hypoplasia that do not raise the questions that surround the questionable ethics employed by those who claim these are miraculous cures. Not only that, but they say the injections administered in China "could be dangerous, introducing infection or toxic matter into the brain fluids."

Then there are other biotech companies like Shenzhen Beike Biotechnology Co., Ltd., which, according to Medical News Today, is "a worldwide leader in providing safe and effective stem cell applications for medical treatment," and "has commenced outfitting its 21,500-square-foot comprehensive medical stem cell storage and processing facility in eastern China." 

But as a recent Philadelphia Inquirer article pointed out, "stem-cell tourism," a new phenomenon of patients and their families going to great lengths to search for miracle cures, makes those searching for such cures ripe for the picking by companies, like Beike, that make promises such as Beike's slogan, "Tomorrow's cures today." 

While the Inquirer reports that Beike claims "it has treated 3,000 Chinese and foreign patients at its 24 hospital clinics in China," the questions raised continue to be not only serious, but in the end, challenging. It is only natural, after all, for people who have an ailing family member to want to seek out any treatment which they believe will be helpful.

And, as I mentioned, far too many industrious people in China are leading the way these days in attempting to fulfill the hopes and aspirations of those seeking a quick fix by doing whatever it takes, including selling children to couples desperate for a child and promising cures to those who are suffering. Oh yes, and lest I forget to mention it, the bottom line in such endeavors, whether criminal or legal, is always the money.

And while it would not be fair to point the finger at a specific country as being the source of unethical practices, I have to point out that, in China, there are no regulations regarding the collection or use of umbilical cord blood stem cells. Nor are there specific laws actually enforced that would punish those who sell children into slavery or to couples who have the money required to buy a child. Of course, Chinese officials claim that they are cracking down and that they are striving to stop such grotesque practices, but human trafficking is far from being a footnote in the history of China's past.

It is a sad commentary on the times in which we live that a country anywhere in the world could be conducting business as usual by exploiting the young and the vulnerable for cash. It forces me to wonder, where is the outrage from governments of more "civilized" nations like our own?

Though clearly, when millions of preborn children can be killed under cover of law in America, there really is no room to point the finger elsewhere, is there?

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