Sunday, August 19, 2018
News Roundup

Unsatisfied former patient files class-action lawsuit against Lung Institute

TAMPA — Diagnosed with lung disease and determined to shed her oxygen tank, Tammy Rivero resorted to an unorthodox treatment.

In 2014, Rivero took out a home equity loan to pay $7,500 and traveled from her western North Carolina home to Florida to undergo stem-cell therapy at the Lung Institute in Tampa. The institute claimed she would see results in a matter of weeks, according to a lawsuit Rivero filed last week.

Instead, according to the suit, she got worse. Now Rivero, 58, is the first of what her attorney says are dozens of former patients seeking class-action status in a legal action against the institute.

Rivero's suit says the Lung Institute violated Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act by duping clients into believing stem-cell therapy worked despite the absence of credible medical evidence.

"It's one thing for folks that have an incurable disease to try experimental treatments," said Rivero's attorney, Ben Vinson Jr. of Tampa. "But it's another when the person offering the treatment knows it doesn't work."

Speaking for the institute, Lynne Flaherty Margnelli, executive vice president of Regenerative Medicine Solutions, said in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times: "Lung Institute prides itself on putting patient care first and always operates with the patients' best interests in mind. We do not believe the case has any merit and we look forward to resolving this matter."

A 2015 Times story said there is little evidence that the institute's treatment works for patients with incurable lung conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.

Dr. Burton Feinerman, who was medical director at the Lung Institute when the Times story ran, said then that the American medical establishment is too slow to embrace developments.

"The U.S. is so far behind the rest of the world, it's pathetic," said Feinerman, who has since retired. "Doctors are not scientists. They know how to read a cookbook, but God forbid if you want to add a new recipe."

Stem cells can reproduce themselves to repair tissues and mature into cells that perform a specific function, such as in the skin, muscle or blood. As part of the institute's treatment, adult stem cells are harvested from individual patients and later reintroduced into the body with the promise to restore deteriorating tissue, such as lung tissue scarred by COPD.

According to the suit, the cost of the procedures ranged from $5,000 to $12,000. The suit claims the institute, which occupies a fourth floor of a downtown Tampa office building, brings in at least $2 million a month.

Each patient is responsible for paying the full cost of the procedure because the institute does not accept health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. The suit claims the institute urged prospective patients who could not afford the cost of the procedure to raise the funds through bake sales and Kickstarter campaigns.

Vinson said Rivero was not told that she would have to pay for followup treatments, which she could not afford.

Contact Tony Marrero at [email protected] or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.

Comments
Why wait? Time for Bucs fans to start missing Jameis Winston

Why wait? Time for Bucs fans to start missing Jameis Winston

NASHVILLE — Here in the land of love-sick country ballads where the dog dies, the pickup truck tires are slashed and somebody leaves a note on the way out of town, Bucs fans should already start missing Jameis Winston.Oh, he's not gone, gone, g...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Tom Jones’ Two Cents: Mixed bag for Bucs’ first teamers vs. Titans

Tom Jones’ Two Cents: Mixed bag for Bucs’ first teamers vs. Titans

Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents while tuning in to the WFLA-Ch. 8 broadcast of Saturday night's Bucs-Titans preseason game.It's preseason. And it was just the second preseason game at that, so there's no reason to get too ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Bucs journal: When in doubt, keep throwing to Mike Evans

Bucs journal: When in doubt, keep throwing to Mike Evans

NASHVILLE — Coach Dirk Koetter joked last week that the Bucs' offense consisted mostly of throwing to WR Mike Evans.All kidding aside, it's not a bad plan.Evans is the most reliable weapon among the Bucs' corps of target-rich receivers. He prov...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Red Sox game

OF Carlos Gomez's overall numbers don't look like much (.215, 8 HRs), but he continues to do so many little things to help on and off the field. Saturday, he made a heads-up play by moving up from second to an uncovered third base on an infield pop-u...
Updated: 6 hours ago
New Rays catcher Michael Perez worth wait

New Rays catcher Michael Perez worth wait

BOSTON — If rookie catcher Michael Perez turns out to be as good as Rays officials think based on their initial reviews, they may thank Steven Souza Jr.Well, not Souza directly.But it was in the process of extensively and intensively scouting A...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays journal: Tyler Glasnow settles down to pitch well in loss

Rays journal: Tyler Glasnow settles down to pitch well in loss

BOSTON — RHP Tyler Glasnow looked so bad as he struggled through a 28-pitch first inning of the Rays' 5-2 loss to Boston that he knew enough to not look out to the bullpen, which was in action.But after allowing four runs — on two doubles...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Epilogue: Tampa’s Mother Teresa, Delia Sanchez, remembered as child welfare champion

Delia P. Sanchez collected things — purses, shoes, newspapers. She hid them away in a storage unit, out of sight from her tidy husband. She had her reasons. And not one of them was selfish. The extra accessories? Those were for the mothers of...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Woman dead after boyfriend shoots her once, returns and shoots again, deputies say

Woman dead after boyfriend shoots her once, returns and shoots again, deputies say

LARGO — A man faces a charge of murder after firing a shot at his girlfriend as she visited a travel trailer in Largo, fleeing the scene, then returning to the trailer and shooting her again a number of times, deputies said.Nathaniel J. Yates, 32, o...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Bucs defensive line had good days against Titans, but not good enough if it aims to be great

Bucs defensive line had good days against Titans, but not good enough if it aims to be great

NASHVILLE — The Bucs' new and improved defensive line has Pro Bowl players, Super Bowl winners and some high draft picks. But right now, they're more famous individually than collectively.For two practices, that's also how they played against t...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Girl, 6, found slain in her Albuquerque-area home has connections to Wimauma

The family of a 6-year-old girl found dead in New Mexico last weekend is trying to bring her remains to Wimauma.Court documents say the body of Ariana "Jade" Romeo was found at her home in Rio Rancho north of Albuquerque on bloody sheets with marijua...
Updated: 11 hours ago