Whatever happened to? Bonita stem cell doctor's case moves to decision stage

Photo by Allie Garza

Zannos Grekos

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NAPLES There's been more legal wrangling since a state hearing last month to address Dr. Zannos Grekos' stem cell practice and if he committed medical malpractice or not.

A few issues were left unresolved after the four-day hearing that was held in Naples, including whether videotaped testimony of a state Department of Health witness would be admitted for the administrative law judge to consider.

Grekos' attorney, Richard Ozelie, of Boca Raton, sought to have the testimony of the witness stricken based on issues of how he arrived at his medical opinion in the case and related matters. The witness is Dr. Thomas Freeman, a professor of neurosurgery, molecular pharmacology and physiology with the University of South Florida's College of Medicine in Tampa.

In a Nov. 15 order, Administrative Law Judge J. Lawrence Johnston ruled that the witness' testimony would be allowed.

State health regulators last year restricted Grekos' license and forbid him to do anything with stem cells after a 69-year-old patient, Domenica Fitzgerald, died in 2010 shortly after undergoing a stem cell therapy in his practice in Bonita Springs.

Grekos had extracted bone marrow from her and infused her unfiltered bone marrow into her circulatory system in hopes of alleviating nerve damage in her feet, which was limiting her mobility. The nerve damage was a side effect from chemotherapy for breast cancer treatment several years earlier. After the stem cell procedure, she suffered brain damage and was hospitalized. She later was taken off life support.

In February, the state fully suspended Grekos' license after he and another physician, Dr. Konstantine Yankopolus, performed a similar stem cell therapy on a 77-year-old man, Richard Poling, who went into cardiac arrest in Grekos' practice and later died at a local hospital. A joint administrative hearing for both doctors will be held in that case, tentatively in February, but a motion is pending for a continuation.

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Whatever happened to? Bonita stem cell doctor's case moves to decision stage

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