Chapter 15 - Dr. Ana Aslan Today
Today, at 78, Ana Aslan is a walking, or rather flying, proof of her own treatment. She flies from country to country, attending medical meetings, usually symposia on aging. She has been taking GH3 for twenty-five years--—ever since she saw its effects on the old people she was treating in her Geriatrics Institutute.
She is spry, twinkling with effervescence, almost like the champagne she likes to drink when relaxing. (She feels, as do many European doctors, that champagne as opposed to the hard stuff--—aids the body in some way undetermined by current medical literature.) Her hair is still brown, her eyes always alert, and her figure adapts well to a svelte pantsuit. She is genuinely warm and friendly and answers questions directly without hesitation-except when she doesn t understand the wording. Her English is good, but (besides Romanian, of course) she is most proficient in French, Italian, and German, in that order.
Her sense of humor is excelled only by her zeal when talking about GH3. I met her in New York several times in 1973-74 when she was in the U.S. attending medical symposia. The tapes I made then are priceless, not only for the information I received, but as a record of my meeting and establishing a close rapport with one whom I consider among the greatest persons in the world today.
I was happy to be able to help prepare a reception for Dr. Aslan at the Romanian embassy. I worked with Andrei Raiescu, chief of the Romanian Tourist Bureau. With my associate, Harold Salkin, we arranged to have some of the most influential doctors, scientists and members of the communications media present. All were enchanted with the delightful Ana, who was literally the queen of the ball.
She was very pleased with the results of testing in the United States. (This was before the double-blind studies were concluded, but some of the laboratory tests had been successfully completed.) At the Symposium on Theoretical Aspects of Aging, Miami, February 7-8, 1974, Dr. Aslan delivered a paper, "Theoretical and Practical Aspects of Chemotherapeutic Techniques in the Retardation of the Aging Process." (See Appendix 19.) This was a summary of the work done on GH3 since she first began to treat patients on a mass scale. The summary was concise and well organized; you could tell toward the end that she was very proud of her young American colleagues who had just presented their laboratory's raison d`etre of GH3--—complete and convincing demonstration of how GH3 worked so well with patients. Now the controversy had come full circle: mostly ridiculed in America by those who did not take the trouble to really ascertain the truth because they wanted to see the truth buried—and now exonerated by researchers who could have been sons of the ones who had fought Ana Aslan's thesis.
Imagine her emotions! She said: "As the weeks and months pass, more research work in the experimental and clinical fields with Gerovital H3 is initiated in the United States. As they come forth, the results, I am happy to say, are confirming the experimental and clinical work done by me over the past two decades.
"Here, today, are three young colleagues [Officer, Zuckerman, and MacFarlane] whose work with Gerovital H3 on the cell membrane, on tissue cultures and on monoamine oxidase is remarkable. To me these findings are a source of great personal satisfaction that more than make up for the misunderstandings of the past. I am firmly convinced that, as work with Gerovital H3 continues in the United States, more issues will be clarified to the satisfaction of all of us who are interested in the problems of aging."
During one of my talks with Dr. Aslan, I was accompanied by Andre Raiescu and Naura Hayden, a beautiful and vivacious TV and film actress, and writer of a best-selling health food book. Also present was one of Ana's friends, who acted as an interpreter whenever necessary, a charming woman who also is being treated with GH3. After Dr. Aslan answered most of the technical questions about GH3 which we have covered elsewhere in the book, the talk grew more personal and warm. When Dr. Aslan said she had been taking GH3 for 23 years, Naura exclaimed: "And you look and feel so young!"
ASLAN: Younger, yes. But not young enough!
NAURA (jokingly): But you don t want to reverse the aging process too fast!
ASLAN (smiling): And why not? (Laughter from everybody.) What's wrong with slowing down or reversing the aging process? Gerovital is a good beginning, but it is not the end. Maybe we'll find other answers soon, but there's no reason why man should not live to be 150 years in full vigor. GH3 will keep most people in full vigor longer, that we know. Just how long, we do not know, because we have not had enough time to find out exactly how effective it is. Also we have to see how long the ones live who are now taking GH3 prophylactically.
NAURA: I was told that women still of childbearing age should not take GH3 because it might affect their children.
ASLAN: Ridiculous! Gerovitai does not cross the placental barrier. Even if it did, it would probably help the fetus, not hurt it. Look at the evidence on animals and cells. it's all positive.
She is not bitter that Gerovital H3 has been "translated" into more than a hundred imitations throughout the world. The one which most Americans know is KGH3, a product of West Germany, which in capsule form is smuggled into the United States in large quantities.
I handed Dr. Aslan a pill which came from South America, although careful scrutiny revealed that it, too, was made by a large German pharmaceutical house. It bore the label "Gerovital Plus." Most interesting of all, the instructions tried to imitate the instructions as contained in boxes of GH3 which are shipped overseas. What was really laughable is that the instructions made the same grammatical mistakes in English as a Romanian would—not a German or a Latin American.
Dr. Aslan's response: "I know that these people are making much money on our discoveries. I make no money, nor do I wish it. I want the world to have the benefit of our findings. But my worry is that they [the imitations] may detract from the nature of our scientific work, since they have not conducted scientific experiments as we have, but rely on our results for popular acceptance."
I asked her if she did not consider this medical piracy scientifically and morally wrong.
ASLAN: Yes, but all we protect is the term "Gerovital H3." We feel that the government of Romania, which has spent so much throughout the years sponsoring our work, should get something in return.
BAILEY: Yet here are products which openly represent themselves to be a product backed by you. Don t you think something should be done about it? -
ASLAN: The government of Romania is aware of most of this. It is up to them to do what they can, if they wish. My job is, as my dear teacher and chief at the Institute, Dr. Parhon, told me, "Ana, your job is to be a missionary of what we believe in and can prove about aging. You must convince the people of our rationale and our practical results. You alone can do this, because you have the instincts and knowledge of a great scientist, but you also have the talent for telling these things to the world" Dr. Aslan said with a trace of sadness, "He was a great man,, a great humanitarian, Dr. Parhon. He believed in me and he gave me a wonderful mission. I only hope I'm worthy of his trust."
I said that judging from the results in the past few years, she had indeed proved herself not only worthy of Dr. Parhon's trust, but the trust of all mankind, in whom they both so fervently believed.
Her interpreter, who is one of her most devoted friends and admirers, said, "Mr. Bailey, if you could know what Ana has done for the people of Romania and for everyone all over the world—without a thought for herself. Oh, if you could only speak French, she could really tell you her dreams and her goals for mankind."
I told the lovely lady the reason I couldn t speak French, after three years of it in college, was that I had forgotten how, but that I got Ana Aslan's message loud and lucid, because we both spoke the same language of the human spirit.
ASLAN: it's hard to explain, but I am the happiest when I know that my work is helping people.
NAURA: It makes me happy you are a woman. Herb has told me he will do everything in his power to get - you the Nobel prize. I believe if anybody can, he can. I intend to do my part to help. it's time a woman such as you was finally recognized. You can't tell me that since Madam Curie, no woman has deserved the prize! (Actually, Nora was slightly in error, there having been two other women who received the Nobel prize, as we pointed out previously.)
ASLAN: I don t look for prizes. I look for recognition among my scientific colleagues, and I want the world to have the benefits of our findings.
BAILEY: I bet she wouldn't refuse it, if only to help womankind! (Spontaneous and general laughter among all present, including Bailey.) Of course I meant she'd have to wait to get all her recognition--after she's dead! it's the custom, you know. (General chorus of laughter, including Aslan.)
EVERYONE: No! No!
In spite of our levity most people know that the Nobel Prize cannot be awarded except to people who are alive.
We departed shortly thereafter with some affection, knowing that we understood each other and liked what we understood and felt.
This is Ana Aslan today, still supervising experiments in Bucharest, still traveling over the world preaching the gospel of true science. Too bad we don't have more of her male counterparts.