BONITA SPRINGS — The defense for Bonita Springs doctor Zannos Grekos says a state complaint that he committed medical malpractice should be dismissed because prosecutors failed to show how his stem-cell therapy was below a standard of care or responsible for a patient's death, according to new court filings.
Prosecutors with the Florida Department of Health also ignored a state law that patients have the right to seek out alternative medicine, said Richard Ozelie, the Boca Raton attorney for Grekos.
That's what occurred with 69-year-old Domenica Fitzgerald, he said.
"The Florida Legislature authorized its citizenry to seek out, as patients, either complementary or alternative modalities of treatment," he said Friday.
Late Thursday, Ozelie filed a proposed order for Administrative Law Judge J. Lawrence Johnston to consider. The state submitted its proposed order this past Tuesday.
The judge has 30 days to issue a recommendation to the Board of Medicine on potential discipline against Grekos, following a four-day hearing in October in Naples.
The state wants Grekos' license revoked, a $40,000 fine imposed and $200,000 assessed for the state's costs.
In 2010, Fitzgerald sought out stem-cell therapy with Grekos for numbness in her feet that was a side-effect several years earlier from chemotherapy for breast cancer.
In Grekos' Bonita Springs practice in March 2010, he extracted bone marrow aspirate from her and injected it back into her circulatory system without removing bone fragments and fat. She suffered a stroke and was taken off life support April 4, 2010.
The state said Fitzgerald hadn't been fully informed about the procedure and its risks, but Ozelie said that's not true.
"She came to him and asked for the stem cell procedure," he said, adding that other defense witnesses showed she understood what the procedure involved.
Ozelie said in his proposal to the judge that several defense witnesses testified about scientific studies and medical literature about stem cell therapy, contrary to what the state argued during the hearing.
In recent years, Grekos has developed a following among people suffering from chronic conditions, such as congestive heart failure and respiratory failure, for stem cell therapy in the Dominican Republic.
He would extract the patient's blood in the United States and send it to a laboratory in Israel or elsewhere for cultivating the stem cells, then the blood would be sent to the Dominican Republic. The patients would travel to the island where a doctor affiliated with Grekos would inject the blood in the damaged heart muscle or other tissue.
The state said none of those practices were followed with Fitzgerald, and the therapy she sought wasn't the treatment she received.