LOS ANGELES (CN) – A man claims U.S. doctors and clinics sucked belly fat from him for so-called “stem cell therapy” for joint disease, delivered the tissue in a grocery bag to Mexican doctors, who injected the “stem cells” into his knee, elbow and alongside his spine. Then, he says, he was hospitalized with a “life threatening Stenotrophomonas matlophilia infection from the stem cell injections that he received in Mexico.”
Robert Anderson, a mixed martial arts coach, sued a host of doctors and clinics in Superior Court.
Anderson says his ordeal began when he consulted Nicholas R. Delgado Jr., Ph.D., who “is and was an individual, acting as a medical provider and operating a health care business at various locations, including the business premises of defendant, Ultimate Medical Research, LLC (‘Ultimate Medical’) and defendant, Health Wellness Studios, Inc. (‘Health Wellness’).”
Ultimate Medical operates in Costa Mesa, Calif.; Health Wellness in Dover, Del., according to the complaint.
“Delgado is and was a self-styled psychologist, hypnotherapist, Time Line therapist and nutritionist who, individually, and through Ultimate Medical and Health Wellness, exhibits, merchandises, markets, advertises, endorses, promotes, distributes and sells, to the general public and health care professionals, various forms of fitness and anti-aging protocols, including stem cell therapies,” the complaint states. “Delgado promoted a form of adult derived stem cell therapy to Anderson, for Anderson’s degenerative joint conditions, that Delgado, based on his background, training and experience, told Anderson were safe and effective treatment modalities for Anderson’s orthopedic degenerative joint disease.
“In exchange for Delgado’s arranging for and financing Anderson’s stem cell treatment, Delgado inveigled Anderson’s promise to allow Anderson’s name and comments to be used in the media, as an endorsement and testimonial for the benefits of Delgado’s, Ultimate Medical’s and Health Wellness’ stem cell treatment protocols that they were – in the media – exhibiting, merchandising, marketing, advertising, endorsing, promoting, distributing, and selling to Delgado’s other customers-clients.”
Anderson claims that Delgado arranged to have a Beverly Hills doctor, Nathan Newman, harvest body fat from him for the “stem cell” treatment. Newman, an M.D., is also named as a defendant.
The complaint continues: “Following a superficial history taken from his patient by one of his staff, Newman harvested Anderson’s adipose tissue on June 9, 2009. While aspirating Anderson’s adipose tissue, Newman’s office equipment failed; however, Newman neglected to restart the procedure but, instead, restarted his office equipment and continued aspirating adipose tissue from Anderson’s abdominal area. Newman then released this biologic tissue to his patient for the next day’s hand delivery to Delgado. Delgado was, in turn, to transport Anderson’s biologic tissue to Torfi, at Invitrx, for processing into stem cells. Newman provided no instruction to Anderson concerning the proper method for care, custody and transportation of this adipose tissue other than, in response to Anderson’s inquiry, saying it was ‘okay’ if he put the tissue in Anderson’s refrigerator, at home.”
Anderson says he took his fat home, stuck it in the fridge, “and, the next day, delivered the tissue to Delgado.”
“Delgado delivered Anderson’s tissue to Torfi and Invitrx, for processing into stem cells,” Anderson says.
Defendant Habib Torfi, Ph.D., “is and was a microbiologist and the founder, chairman and CEO of defendant, Invitrx, Inc.,” which operates as defendants Invitrx Therapeutics and Invitrx Cosmeceuticals, out of Irvine, according to the complaint.
“On information and belief, Delgado represented to Torfi that the adipose had been properly harvested from Anderson’s body by Newman. Delgado orally instructed Torfi and Invitrx to process the tissue into stem cells, thereafter compensating Torfi and Invitrx for the laboratory work.”
The complaint continues: “When the stem cells were ready for pickup, several days later, Delgado picked up Anderson’s stem cells from Torfi and Invitrx and, thereafter, along with Anderson and another person, transported the stem cells to the Sanoviv Medical Clinic (‘Sanoviv’), at or near Rosarita Beach, Republic of Mexico, arriving at Sanoviv on or about June 14, 2009. On information and belief, the stem cells were delivered, by Delgado, to Sanoviv in a grocery bag and handed to physicians, Joel Rodriguez, M.D. (aka Joel Rodriguez-Sepulveda) and Roberto Aburto, M.D. On information and belief, Drs. Rodriguez and Aburto are licensed medical physicians in the Republic of Mexico, but are not licensed to practice medicine in the United States.”
Anderson says the Mexican doctors “questioned Delgado about the stem cells … due to the manner in which Anderson’s stem cells were being delivered and the unusual appearance of Anderson’s stem cells, i.e., pink, almost blood-like in color and not opaque. …
“Presenting a “physician’s certificate”, Delgado confirmed that the aspirated adipose tissue had been harvested from Anderson’s body and processed by a well known laboratory, located in Southern California, Delgado represented that Anderson’s stem cells were ‘guaranteed’ by the lab as being of the highest quality and as having been properly stored and transported.”
Within the hour, Anderson says, the Mexican doctors injected the stuff into his right knee, right elbow and “left paraspinous area.” The paraspinous area is the ridge of muscle along both sides of the spine, from the butt to the neck.
Anderson says the Mexican doctors told him that “in the event of a reaction to these injections, he should secure a prescription for anti-inflammatory medications from his doctor in the United States.”
It may not surprise you that “within one to two hours of the procedure,” Anderson says he “began to experience right elbow, right knee, and low back pain, with nausea. These symptoms rapidly progressed to a serious presentation, which included joint effusion, excruciating pain with range of motion and joint tenderness on palpation, at the stem cell injected areas.”
Back in the U.S.A., his wife took him to the Kaiser Permanente South Bay Medical Center, in Harbor City, “where he was admitted and treated for what was, literally, a life threatening Stenotrophomonas matlophilia infection from the stem cell injections that he received in Mexico,” Anderson says.
The Andersons say they have spent more than $90,000 on hospital bills, and that Robert still is receiving treatment for the infection, and has been unable to train or coach.
Stenotrophomonas matlophilia is a gram-negative bacterial infection that is difficult to treat.
Anderson seeks damages for malpractice and negligence, medical expenses, and lost wages. He and his wife are represented by Roger Hawkins with Taubman, Simpson, Young and Sulentor of Long Beach.