LEE COUNTY — A week after Dr. Zannos Grekos was accused of performing a stem cell treatment on a patient who died, his attorney said another physician was treating the patient at the Bonita Springs practice.
And there was no stem cell treatment performed, only liposuction, said Richard Ozelie, the Boca Raton attorney representing Grekos.
Ozelie does not identify the other doctor but said in a statement Wednesday that the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and the Lee County Medical Examiner’s Office both have that information.
The patient, identified by state authorities through the initials R.P., did have liposuction at the Regenocyte medical facility in Bonita Springs, Ozelie said in the statement. The Sheriff’s Office later identified the man who died as Richard Poling , 77, of Newburgh, Ind.
The attorney issued the one-page statement because of concerns with the accuracy of media coverage after the state Department of Health suspended Grekos license March 7. The case has received some national media attention.
The next day, the Sheriff’s Office launched a criminal investigation into Grekos practice, Regenocyte, 9500 Bonita Beach Road, Suite 310.
Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Larry King had no comment Wednesday and said the agency’s investigation is continuing.
In the suspension order, the state health department said Grekos “infused or directed” that the patient have concentrated stem cells infused into his blood stream. The state order said the patient suffered cardiac arrest and died.
The emergency suspension was issued because Grekos violated a license restriction from February, 2011, not to do anything with autologous stem cell treatment or bone marrow aspirate, according to the state order.
“Dr. Grekos did not perform a stem cell treatment on patient R.P.,” Ozelie said in his statement. “Patient R.P. did have a liposuction procedure performed at the Regenocyte medical facility in Bonita Springs, Florida.”
The attorney went on to say that “Dr. Grekos did not perform a stem cell treatment by either transporting or causing to be transported to a laboratory for further processing the fatty tissue of Patient R.P. In fact, thousands of lab samples are transported/couriered across our nation on a daily basis. Neither the act of transportation, nor the work of a lab constitutes the treatment of a patient.”
Ozelie also said Grekos did not “infuse, or direct the infusion” into the patient his own stem cells and that the Sheriff’s Office and the Medical Examiner’s Office are “both in possession of the report of the actual doctor who was treating patient R.P. and that report specifically states that there was no infusion of stem cells into said patient.”
Ozelie said the media has inaccurately reported the cause of the patient’s death when the Collier County Medical Examiner’s Office has not provided or prepared an autopsy report drawing the same conclusion and neither has the state health department.
Manfred Borges, deputy medical examiner in Collier, said Wednesday that the official death pronouncement was done at NCH North Naples Hospital and the autopsy was done in Collier County.
Borges declined to discuss the case further, pointing to the Sheriff’s Office investigation in Lee. The official autopsy report will take a while to complete, he said.
Ozelie’s statement also said thousands of stem cell treatments and procedures are performed each year in the United States. The treatment is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration when a person’s own tissue containing stem cells is removed and then his or her own stem cells are reintroduced into their own body.
Grekos’ practice in recent years as evolved into arranging for patients to undergo stem cell treatment in the Dominican Republic for congestive heart failure, lung failure, and other conditions no longer treatable by conventional methods.
Ozelie said Grekos and his team of affiliated doctors in the U.S. and the Dominican Republic have performed more than 300 stem cell treatments since 2006.