All Blacks prop Owen Franks used stem cell therapy to overcome shoulder injury

Stem cell therapy helped All Blacks prop Owen Franks overcome a shoulder injury he suffered in April that had appeared to end his World Cup dream.

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In early April the prop’s World Cup chances looked shot after suffering a shoulder injury playing for the Crusaders. Source: 1 NEWS

After suffering a tear in his right shoulder in early April while playing for the Crusaders, surgery and at least six months out of the game appeared to be the final option, shattering his last season at the Crusaders and his World Cup hopes.

Instead, Franks chose to use stem cell therapy, having tried the treatment before.

Rather than surgery, Franks' own cells and hard work have repaired the serious tear.

Stem cells were taken from the prop’s abdominal fat and sent to the re-gen lab in Queenstown, the only lab in New Zealand where they can be expanded.

The expanded cells were then injected back into Franks mixed with his own blood or plasma.

Dr Hassan Mubark says Franks’ cells regenerated a lot faster than those from an average person.

“I used around a hundred million stem cells in order to get the best shot,” he told 1 NEWS.

After a month the shoulder area was fixed, allowing Franks to play in the Super Rugby playoffs for the Crusaders.

“My understanding from doing hundreds of these cases is that athletes respond better,” Dr Mubark said.

The sometimes controversial treatment of expanding cells isn't used as yet in the US or Europe, but it's allowed here.

“It's an evolving science, some believers, some unbelievers,” Dr Mubark said.

Franks is certainly a believer.

“In the long run if it gets me one extra season, that's more than worth it,” Franks told 1 NEWS.

Other All Blacks are looking at possible treatment before and after the World Cup, with the therapy – which Dr Mubark says is “all natural” - costing around $12,000 to $15,000.

One of the most talked about right shoulders in rugby will be tested out again next week in Perth in the first Bledisloe Test.