AUSTIN, August 31, 2004 ( – In an unusual effort to promote the use of fat to obtain stem cells, a Texas doctor has performed liposuction on himself in front of television crews. Dr. Robert Ersek performed the self-surgery, under a local anesthetic and removed 1 ½ pounds of his own fat from one side of his body. With media looking on, he joked, “Somebody said we’re doing our part to keep Austin weird.”  Stem cells have been found present in abundance in human fat as well as other tissues of the body. Stem cells, those cells in the body that can change into any kind of tissue, replace damaged tissue by changing from a kind of cell ‘blank’ into the needed type and grafting themselves onto the damaged or diseased area. The potential for disease therapies is being met, with sometimes astonishing results, in many different illnesses and injuries, including Parkinson’s disease and cancer. There remain no cures accomplished using cells derived from embryos. In addition, many attempts at curing diseases using embryo cells have ended in disastrous irreversible side effects for patients.  However, the fact that stem cells can be found readily available with little or no ethical problems in fat tissue was not widely known. Most media focus is on the claims of researchers that it is necessary to use embryonic and fetal human beings to obtain the cells. Ersek, an Austin cosmetic surgeon has performed the unusual publicity stunt to encourage his patients to save their liposuctioned fat. The inventor of liposuction, Dr. Yves Gerard Illouz of Paris, was present and said of stem cell research, “this will be the future.”  El Paso Times coverage:   tv