A healthy Pole in 30 years - Minister of Healthcare Professor Zbigniew Religa

“…I am an aficionado of stem cells”

A fragment of the interview:

Talking about the progress in medicine, about research and finding new therapies, it’s hard not to mention stem cells, which lately have been heavily discussed in Poland and Europe as well…

… I’m an aficionado of stem cells. Such cells can be obtained from an adult and used for research. These ones don’t have the same state or ability to transform into various organs as embryonic cells do. It is important to develop laboratories working on this issue. It is in our own interest to find money for this issue. Incredible therapeutic abilities lie in stem cells.

And when will we be able to grow new organs from stem cells? In 10 or 30 years? Or maybe around 50? Or just in 5?

Between 10 and 30 years is a possible perspective.

The issue that brings a lot of controversy is not the research on stem cells, but the way of obtaining them.

The government has taken a standpoint during the last meeting of Ministers of the EU. Poland is opposed to obtaining stem cells from human embryos. As long as I’m a member of this government, I don’t intend to have any other opinion. As a physician, as Zbigniew Religa, I think there are many misunderstandings when concerning the beginning of human life.

I fully agree that killing, at any time, is unacceptable. But is every merging of two cells a beginning of human life? I don’t know the answer to that question. I think it could be given after a very deep discussion of scientists, representatives of the Church and ethics. Remember, I’m just a cardiothoracic surgeon.

But stem cells are useful in cardiothoracic surgery as well…

I was the first to use stem cells in treating heart diseases. Adult cells. This is why my view is that of a scientist. But on the matter of stem cell collection I agree with my government. Which, by the way, is not a lone one; it has been supported by 5 other countries and the President of the United States. A fundamental discussion is developing.

Will Poland, being against the obtainment of embryonic cells, do such research?

We should research stem cells obtained from adults and expand our knowledge.