Texas family turned to Bonita stem cell doctor, but 5-year-old died before 'miracle'

Jason Bell

BONITA SPRINGS Jimmy and Jennifer Bell were scrambling to save their 5-year-old-son, Jason, last fall.

Shell-shocked with a diagnosis that their youngest child had primary pulmonary hypertension, a rare lung disorder, they decided to take a chance. If not, a heart-lung transplant would be their son's only chance.

They put their trust in a Southwest Florida cardiologist, Dr. Zannos Grekos, more than 1,000 miles from their Texas home. They learned Grekos performs an experimental stem cell therapy that possibly could help. That's despite a lack of clinical studies and scientific papers.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn't approved stem cell therapy despite a buzz of optimism of its potential for repairing damaged tissue.

"I was willing to do anything to give my son a fighting chance," said Jimmy Bell, 43, who owns a landscaping company in Keller, a suburb of Fort Worth. "When you are given no other option, you've got to try something."

The treatment would involve a trip to Bonita Springs where Grekos has his practice, Regenocyte; a trip to the Dominican Republic where the treatment would be done, and an up-front payment of $57,000.

"They looked at his medical records first. They didn't know if they could treat him," Bell said. "Once they agreed to treat him, I talked to Grekos. It was the greatest news in my life. I broke down. I just knew this was going to be the miracle to save his life."

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The family wired the money in late October 2011 to a Regenocyte account in the Dominican Republic, according to a copy of the paid invoice furnished to the Daily News.

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Texas family turned to Bonita stem cell doctor, but 5-year-old died before 'miracle'

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