Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of Americans have defied federal warnings against seeking untested—and often expensive—stem-cell therapy abroad, CNN reports. Though they lack scientific backing, such treatments for terminal diseases are popular in China, where the parents of one 8-year-old seek to treat her spinal muscular atrophy. “We are really walking into this blindfolded,” admits her mom, who faces a $50,000 bill for the procedure and family travel.
Sites have cropped up to lure Americans abroad for stem-cell therapies banned stateside. A doctor who provides such services in Peru says he is self-taught and has been conducting the therapies for 3 years. “We are not selling snake oil, but our scientific approach to diseases that are not available in the US,” he says.