Richard Branson, founder and chairman of Virgin Galactic, said Thursday he plans to continue the controversial practice of performing prostate biopies for patients, in the hopes of helping them heal from their prostate cancer diagnosis.
In a statement, Branson said the practice is a matter of principle and “there is no place in the medical community for discrimination or bigotry.”
“There is a need for these tests to be done safely, affordably and with good quality,” he said.
“If a patient cannot afford it, they should not have the right to ask.”
Branson’s statement comes a day after the company announced that the first patient who will be able to get a free prostate bioscopy will be Dr. Jeffrey A. Smith, an associate professor of surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine.
Branson and his wife, singer and actress Tatiana Maslany, announced in March that they were canceling their plans to build a new spaceport in Virgin Galactic’s Mojave Desert and instead would invest in a new $500 million spaceport that would allow Virgin Galactic to offer private space travel.
The company said Thursday that Smith’s test results, which have not been publicly released, are in line with the company’s current protocols and that he was “well on his way” to a successful return to flight.
Brancanson said that his plan to continue to perform prostate biostats is “just one step” in a plan to provide care to anyone with a prostate cancer and said that it’s important for doctors to do their jobs without bias.
“When you do things right, you make a difference,” Branson told ABC News.
“You make a change.
I’m doing this because it’s just my opinion.
I can’t control the medical outcome.
I cannot control how a person feels.
But I can help them by being honest about what is really going on with their body.”
Smith’s test was performed by Dr. Stephen R. Pemberton at the University of California, San Francisco, who has become a celebrity in recent years for his work in diagnosing prostate cancer.
The two men say they will be doing more tests in the future to test for prostate cancer in men, but that they have not decided how many tests they will do.