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Brain surgery for drug addicts questioned
(Shenzhen Daily)
Updated: 2004-12-01 09:54

Guangdong 999 Brain Hospital, one of the first Chinese hospitals to introduce brain surgery to help rehabilitate drug addicts, is seeking an apology from China Central Television (CCTV) for a program criticizing the practice.

At a press conference Monday, the hospital claimed the program had used "groundless" material, which had severely harmed the hospital's reputation, the Guangzhou Daily reported Tuesday.

Although the Ministry of Health had banned the surgery from commercial use earlier this month, it was yet to draw a conclusion on the side effects, the hospital said.

The hospital claimed the broadcaster had exaggerated the side effects, which had dealt a blow to it's reputation.

In CCTV's popular news program Oriental Horizon aired last Friday, reporters interviewed a woman and her 26-year-old son who had undergone the surgery at the hospital.

"After the surgery, he acted much slower than before," the mother said in the program. "He walks very slowly now, always falling behind me when we go out."

Asked by the reporter to move a camera tripod about two meters, the patient bumped a cup on a tea table. "The man has a problem in synchronizing his movements," the program said.

However, the patient denied he had a problem at the news conference. "The room was too small, and I tripped on a tripod leg," he said.

The TV program also raised another question about the surgery: why did the hospital prescribe Naltrexone _ which is used in the treatment of narcotic drug addiction _ even after surgery.

"If the patients have been really cured, they don't need the medicine after all," Han Jisheng, director of the Neurological Science Research Center at Beijing University, told the program.

The hospital argued that it used the medicine only as "auxiliary" treatment but refused to disclose the case histories of its patients, saying they were "confidential for privacy reasons."

The Ministry of Health banned the surgery earlier this month, saying it was too early to put it into commercial practice.

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