(WSVN) - A Fort Lauderdale woman paid thousands of dollars for a medical procedure. She was told it could cure her arthritis. Did it work? 7’s Patrick Fraser investigates.

Kitty loves to swim. By the way, Kitty is 81 years old.

Kitty Kessler: “Because it keeps me in good condition. So I just go back and forth for the 80 lengths, and that’s not a workout, that’s just a swim.”

But her love of swimming brings something else: more pain.

Kitty Kessler: “Both shoulders and both hands. Thumb and the next two fingers, because they’re arthritic.”

Kitty has suffered from arthritis for 27 years, damaging her hands, feet and shoulders. Then she got a postcard from a company that said they could relieve her pain.

Kitty Kessler: “For me, it would grow new cartilage in the shoulder.”

Kitty says the company, called Reclaim Health Group in Orlando, invited her to a free luncheon along with 20 other people to learn about their treatment.

Kitty Kessler: “They told us that they use umbilical cord stem cells that are frozen and preserved, and we get our stem cells through the National Organ Donor Program.”

Kitty was desperate to try to live a pain-free life.

She did her research and spoke to a woman who said she was the doctor for Reclaim Health.

Kitty Kessler: “She had called me and said, ‘You know, I’ve reviewed your records, and you’re a great candidate.'”

She signed this contract for what she was told were stem cell injections and wrote the company a check.

Kitty Kessler: “[The check was for] $14,445.75.”

A few days later, a woman arrived with four needles.

Kitty Kessler: “And about that much fluid in it, a clear fluid. I don’t even know if with stem cells.”

Kitty was told her pain would start to lessen in two days.

Patrick Fraser: “Did it help?”

Kitty Kessler: “No, and it kept getting worse, and it was getting worse for like two months.”

Patrick: “It’s now been four months. Is it better?” 

Kitty Kessler: “No. It’s not. Not at all.”

That surprised Kitty, because she said the salesman claimed only one patient in eight years didn’t get better, and he told her the treatment was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

But Reclaim Health Group’s own website states the treatment is not currently approved by the FDA, nor does it cure, mitigate or treat any disease.

The company, though, was about to find out they had signed up the wrong patient.

Patrick Fraser: “You are tenacious.”

Kitty Kessler: Yes, I am, like a bulldog. My husband used to say that.”

Kitty says she checked out the company reps’ claim that they got their stem cells from the National Organ Donor Program.

Kitty Kessler: “They said they only deal in organs, and tissue and stem cells are neither, and they never deal with private companies.”

Kitty filed a complaint with Fort Lauderdale Police and the Florida Health Department, and she is not alone. The FDA told us they had received other complaints about Reclaim Health Group.

The FDA didn’t want to talk to us on camera, but they did do an online discussion with the New York Stem Cell Foundation and suggested people like Kitty rely on the state and not the federal government to investigate complaints.

Dr. Peter Marks, FDA: “In some cases, state boards of medicine have been able to go in and say, ‘Wait a second, you are charging a patient for an unproven therapy, and they’ve been able to take action that way.'”

Patrick Fraser: “How do you feel now about signing up with them?”

Kitty Kessler: “Like an idiot. But I was desperate, and I needed to believe, 27 years of swimming through pain and not being able to sleep.”

We repeatedly tried contacting Reclaim Health Group in Orlando. No one would return our calls, and there is no Reclaim Health Group in the building where they list their address.

Kitty Kessler: “I want to see this made public enough so that other seniors who are being targeted, obviously, do not fall prey to this.”

They got Kitty’s $14,445 dollars. Her dream of waking up without pain is gone, but she won’t stop what it pains her to do.

Kitty Kessler: “And I can’t give up swimming, so I’m going to hurt. But I’ve been doing it so many years, and I’ll just keep doing it.”

And keep living in pain.

I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.


Copyright 2024 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox