Rick Perry’s back surgery included experimental stem cell therapy

Holly Bailey
The Ticket

When Rick Perry had spinal surgery last month, the Texas governor and potential 2012 hopeful played down his "little procedure," which was aimed at remedying a recurring back ailment.

What Perry didn't disclose, as the Texas Tribune's Emily Ramshaw reports, was that he underwent an experimental procedure that included the injection of his own adult stem cells. It's a therapy that isn't yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration, as doctors have said more testing needs to be done to gauge long-term effects and whether the procedure even works.

Perry's surgery did not use embryonic stem cells, which he and other conservatives have publicly opposed on moral grounds. But Perry, as the Tribune notes, has increasingly become a major supporter of adult stem cell research--and even wrote a letter calling for Texas to become "the world's leader in research and use of adult stem cells" just weeks after his own surgery last month.

As Ramshaw reports in second story, the procedure is so new that even Perry's own doctor hadn't performed it before. The governor's stem cells were cultured at a Texas clinic owned by RNL Bio, a South Korean company that has been famous for its efforts to clone dogs.

Dr. Stanley Jones, a Houston orthopedic surgeon who performed the surgery and is a close friend of Perry's, said the governor had no qualms about undergoing the experimental procedure because he had done extensive research.

"He said, 'You know I don't mind being the first. I like it,'" Jones told the Tribune.