Stars and Their Doctors: Charlie Sheen and the Man Who Gives Him Stem Cells
For THR's annual Doctor's Issue, the actor turned to drugs in an attempt to repair his aching joints: A stem cell cocktail created by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Bal M. Rajagopalan (aka "Dr. Raj") who claims he has "tools to regenerate bone cartilage and turn back time."
This story first appeared in the Sept. 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
At hospitals like Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, scientists have been conducting potentially breakthrough research on repairing injured knees and elbows and other joints by injecting stem cells into the cartilage of goats and mice. But here in L.A., doctors are much further along, injecting the stuff into more exotic animals — like Charlie Sheen.
“In addition to immediate relief, the long-term benefits are mind-blowing,” says the 49-year-old actor, a patient of Dr. Bal M. Rajagopalan — or “Dr. Raj” — an orthopedic surgeon with offices in Beverly Hills and Dubai (Sheen gets house calls for follow-ups). Dr. Raj’s stem cell cocktail is somewhat different than the Johns Hopkins methodology; he simply removes a dab of bone marrow from the patient in what he describes as a “minimally invasive procedure,” aspirates the marrow with a centrifuge to separate the stem cells from the red blood cells and re-injects the material into the aching joint. The results, he promises, are miraculous. “Stem cell therapy is the most impactful invention since antibiotics,” says the 45-year-old doctor, a graduate of Canada’s Memorial University. “I now have tools to regenerate bone cartilage and turn back time.”
Since the recovery time is so fast, the procedure is especially attractive to Dr. Raj’s celebrity patients. “I can address the Hollywood clients who need a quick fix,” he promises. Sheen, who is being treated for an old shoulder injury, isn’t Dr. Raj’s only high-profile patient — Howie Dorough also has been injected, along with such former pro athletes as Jim Burt and Chris Speier — but he may be the most enthusiastic. “[Dr. Raj] helped to maintain certain body parts that have helped to maintain certain aspects of my career,” says the former Two and a Half Men star. “I’d recommend him to anyone. He doesn’t lead with his scalpel; he leads with a universe of expertise and a skill set of both conventional and alternative practices.”
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