Stem-cell doctor Grekos should lose license, pay heavy fines, costs, state recommends

Scott McIntyre/Staff
Scenes from the first day of the trial of Dr. Zannos Grekos at the Collier County Courthouse on Tuesday October 16, 2012. The Bonita Springs doctor's license is currently suspended after two of his patients have died while using stem cell procedures.

Photo by SCOTT MCINTYRE // Buy this photo

Scott McIntyre/Staff Scenes from the first day of the trial of Dr. Zannos Grekos at the Collier County Courthouse on Tuesday October 16, 2012. The Bonita Springs doctor's license is currently suspended after two of his patients have died while using stem cell procedures.

Zannos Grekos

Photo by Allie Garza

Zannos Grekos

Bonita Springs cardiologist Zannos Grekos should lose his license because he committed medical malpractice in performing an unscientific stem cell procedure on a patient who died, according to new case filings.

State Department of Health attorneys also recommend that a judge fine Grekos the maximum $40,000 and order him to pay expenses to investigate and prosecute him, according to the state’s recommended order to the judge.

The state costs to date are $200,222, according to Department of Health spokeswoman Ashley Carr.

The case involves Grekos' unorthodox stem-cell therapy on 69-year-old Domenica Fitzgerald in 2010, who suffered a stroke and was taken off life support. She died April 4, 2010.

John Fitzgerald, the victim's husband, pointed out Wednesday that the three-year anniversary of his wife's death is approaching.

"I'm worn out," he said. "I want some closure. My family wants closure."

Still, he said the state's two prosecutors have worked hard, and he had been told that $200,000 had been spent so far on the case.

"I know the system is slow," he said. "It seems to be working."

At the same time, every time something happens in the case, the memories and pain resurface.

"Every time something comes up, it all comes back," Fitzgerald said. "This shouldn't have happened."

Grekos' attorney, Richard Ozelie, of Boca Raton, missed Tuesday's deadline to file his proposed recommended order to the judge. He asked for an extension until today for personal reasons, which was an extension from late January.

Ozelie declined to comment Wednesday.

The state restricted Grekos' license after Fitzgerald's death, and then fully suspended it in 2012 after he performed a similar procedure on a 77-year-old Indiana man who also died.

The state's current case only involves Grekos' treatment of Fitzgerald.

Administrative Law Judge J. Lawrence Johnston has 30 days to issue his recommendation to the state Board of Medicine to consider. The medical board has leeway on how to proceed with disciplinary action if and when a doctor has violated standards of care.

A cardiologist by training, Grekos developed a following among patients when he arranged for them to have stem-cell therapy in the Dominican Republic and elsewhere for chronic conditions when traditional medical therapies were no longer effective. He conducted educational programs in the United States and did preliminary screenings and blood extractions while his partner in the Dominican Republic would do the infusions.

Domenica Fitzgerald, who was friend's with Grekos mother, went to him because of numbness in her feet and legs which made walking difficult. The neurological damage was a side effect of chemotherapy for breast cancer treatment several years earlier.

Instead of being sent to the Dominican Republic, Fitzgerald was treated in Grekos' practice in Bonita Springs. He did not refine bone marrow aspirate that he extracted from her to remove bone fragments and fat, state prosecutors argued during a four-day administrative hearing last October in Naples against the doctor.

Instead, Grekos injected her unrefined bone marrow aspirate into her carotid artery and brain, and it caused her to have a stroke and she was left with severe brain damage. Her family took her off life support.

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