If you go
The Grekos hearing is scheduled to resume today. The location is the Collier County Courthouse in room 4-D, according to a case filing Monday.
The hearing before J. Lawrence Johnson, an administrative law judge from Tallahassee, is scheduled to last four days. The Collier County Courthouse is located at 3315 U.S. 41 E.
EAST NAPLES — The patient was friends with the mother of Dr. Zannos Grekos, a Bonita Springs cardiologist who performed stem cell therapy on people with debilitating illnesses.
Chemotherapy for breast cancer several years earlier had left the 69-year-old patient, Domenica Fitzgerald, with numbness in her legs. She was unable to walk for more than 10 minutes. She hoped Grekos and his stem cell treatment could help.
"She was looking for a cure. She wanted to get well," her husband, John "Jack" Fitzgerald, testified Tuesday.
A four-day administrative hearing started Tuesday in a Collier County courtroom for a state Department of Health complaint against Grekos. The state says he committed medical malpractice and violated other standards of care when he performed a stem cell treatment on the patient on March 24, 2010. The patient suffered brain damage.
The state is only identifying the patient in its complaint by her initials, D.F. The Daily News learned of her identity by a public records request to the Collier County Medical Examiner's Office of all people who died on April 4, 2010, in the county. That was the day that Fitzgerald died after being taken off life support.
The state last year restricted Grekos' license after her death and ordered him not to do anything with stem cells with other patients. His license was fully suspended earlier this year when the state said he violated the order by treating another patient who also died.
In his Bonita Springs practice on the day he treated Fitzgerald, Grekos aspirated bone marrow, state officials contend.
He later used a catheter in her femoral artery in the groin to inject the unconcentrated and unfiltered aspirate back into her to reach her carotid artery and brain, according to the state's prosecutor, Robert Milne.
The patient and her husband were never told the procedure is experimental, the husband said.
"He said if you do this, the worst that can happen is it wouldn't work," John Fitzgerald testified.
The husband spoke in detail about how his wife was heavily sedated when she was sent home immediately after the outpatient treatment. Because his wife was friends with Grekos' mother, Effie Grekos, she followed Fitzgerald in her own car to the Fitzgerald home and stayed for about 10 minutes before leaving.
Fitzgerald said his wife wasn't able to do anything and was unable to speak at home. She vomited and he called 911 soon afterward.
Part of the state's complaint is that Grekos abandoned the patient when he didn't respond to three calls from the husband the same evening of the treatment.
Grekos did arrive at North Naples Hospital early the next morning and said she needed to be transported to NCH Downtown Naples Hospital for better care, according to Grekos' attorney, Richard Ozelie, of Boca Raton.
Grekos' attorney said EMS workers had stated in reports that the patient was alert and verbal when they arrived at her home to take her to the hospital.
The state prosecutor and Ozelie wrangled over consent forms and whether signatures belonged to the patient. Ozelie argued the issue hadn't been included in a pre-trial stipulation and shouldn't be allowed in the hearing.
The administrative law judge, J. Lawrence Johnston, didn't rule immediately.
A dozen or more supporters of Grekos attended the hearing, several of whom said Grekos changed their lives forever by his stem cell treatment.
One of them is Bill Orr, of the Chicago area, who is scheduled to testify. He said Grekos did stem cell treatment on him in the Dominican Republic and in his Bonita Springs practice. He was confined to a wheelchair after a bicycle accident in 1986 but is now able to use a walker to get around because of Grekos' treatment, he said.
During a break, Grekos said he didn't know if he will testify.
"I hope I am given the opportunity," he said.
In opening statements, Milne said that the treatment Grekos performed had no scientific backing in research, and a neurosurgeon with the University of South Florida will testify about that.
In addition, Milne said that chemotherapy destroys stem cells and so Grekos' extraction of bone marrow aspirate in the patient, to use her stem cells, had no therapeutic value.
"This was literally a blind shot in the dark," Milne said.
Ozelie gave a brief opening statement and said Fitzgerald had been a patient of Grekos' for some time. He refuted one of the state's complaints that she hadn't been fully informed of the procedure she was undergoing. One of his witnesses will discuss an 11-page consent form that she signed, Ozelie said.
The hearing resumes today in courtroom 4-D in the Collier County Courthouse off U.S. 41 East in East Naples.