DOH: Solons who died after stem cell therapy were sick

By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 25 2013 02:29 PM | Updated as of Jun 25 2013 10:29 PM

MANILA - Two congressmen who died after undergoing stem cell therapy abroad were already sick before getting treatment, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters, Ona refused to say if stem cell treatment caused the deaths of congressmen Erico Aumentado and Pedro Romualdo. Both lawmakers died of pneumonia.

"First hindi ko alam ‘yun. Second, ang information that we got: It has nothing to do… Ibig sabihin, they were already very sick bago nagpa-so-called stem call, baka sakali," he said in the interview.

On the other hand, the health secretary said clinics or hospitals in the Philippines offering stem cell treatments should be duly licensed by the Department of Health.

“Dapat ‘yung mga clinic or mga ospital na gumagawa noon kailangang mayroong license, approved ngayon ng DOH. Kaya iinspekyunin sila," he said.

House Speaker Sonny Belmonte earlier confirmed Aumentado and Romualdo had died after undergoing stem cell treatment in Germany last year. He clarified that it has not been established whether stem cell therapy was the cause of death.

Belmonte said that after having stem cell therapy, the 2 felt rejuvenated and may have exerted themselves during the last election campaign.

Belmonte said Aumentado even started walking around without a cane.

Aumentado's son, Aristotle, earlier said his father had leg thrombosis for which he had to undergo bifemoral bypass and stem cell therapy .

After stem cell therapy, his father started walking without a cane, and sometimes had low-blood sugar. However, he said they forgot to get him stem cell treatment for his father's pneumonia, which he had before the stem cell treatment in Germany last September.

Aristotle said they have no regrets about the therapy, and he doesn't see the need for a Philippine Medical Association investigation.