State: Grekos extracted tissue from stem cell patient who died, damaged patient's abdomen

Photo by Allie Garza

Dr. Zannos Grekos, a cardiologist whose practice is in Bonita Springs, speaks with a seminar attendant after one of his educational seminars about stem cell treatment, using one's own stem cells, for treating heart disease and other medical conditions, on Monday, March 14, 2011, at the Collier County Library. Allie Garza/Staff


In a case involving a criminal investigation into the recent death of a 77-year-old man after stem cell treatment, state health authorities say Dr. Zannos Grekos extracted tissue from the patient while a second doctor later injected the patient with his own concentrated stem cells.

But when Grekos, a Bonita Springs cardiologist, initially harvested fatty tissue from Richard Poling's stomach on March 2, he unknowingly damaged the patient's abdomen which led to bleeding, according to a state Department of Health complaint.

New documents obtained by the Daily News shed more light on the case of Grekos and Dr. Konstantine Yankopolus, a Fort Myers obstetrician who assisted Grekos. They face potential disciplinary action from the state Board of Medicine for doing a stem cell treatment that the state says was experimental and dangerous.

The state issued separate administrative complaints against them in late March and early April, a few weeks after Poling died the same day of the treatment. He suffered a cardiac arrest in Grekos' practice on Bonita Beach Road and was pronounced dead at NCH North Naples Hospital.

The Lee County Sheriff's Office launched a criminal investigation in early March and it is ongoing, agency spokesman Larry King said.

Grekos also faces potential discipline when the state restricted his license in February, 2011 in connection to the death of a 69-year-old woman who went to him in 2010 for stem cell therapy.

She sought a remedy for neurological damage after chemotherapy for breast cancer. She fell in her home after the treatment, suffered a brain injury and later was taken off life support.

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State: Grekos extracted tissue from stem cell patient who died, damaged patient's abdomen

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